A cyclist from Oakworth who was shot in the head as a boy has his sights set on training with the Paralympians.
Danny Walmsley (pictured), 33, is hoping to be officially recognised as a disabled athlete this weekend.
He was only 14 when a friend shot him with an airgun in a prank that went wrong on a camping trip.
Although he made a partial recovery after initially being paralysed, he has since struggled with long-term health problems caused by the pellet lodged in his head.
Doctors have now told him he will have an operation at Leeds General Infirmary to have the pellet removed. No date has yet been set for the procedure, though Mr Walmsley understands it should take place near the end of this year.
He attends the LGI for scans and neuro psychology and said he was finally receiving the treatment he needed after years of doctors failing to understand his condition.
According to recent scans, the pellet in Mr Walmsley’s head is moving towards his spinal cord. He said: “Over the years the pellet has moved with gravity’s pull.
“It’s got to the point where I can hardly stand up sometimes due to the pain. All of my right side is affected and I have severe neck pain - it’s like I’ve had a stroke.”
He has turned to cycling to improve his physical and mental health, with support from his girlfriend Donna Davidson, also 33.
The couple live in Windsor Crescent.
Last year, Mr Walmsley was part of the three-man Lancashire Road Club squad that won the Rake Hill Climb in Ramsbottom, and he took on the contest for the second time last Sunday. (Oct 28) He completed the challenge in three minutes 42 seconds, slower than his time last year of three minutes 16 seconds.
He attributed the slower time to the fact that he is on much more medication than he was last year.
“It seemed like forever even though it was only about three minutes,” he said. “I could see that the crowd at the top of the course was massive, and that made me grit my teeth and keep going. The weather was appalling - the rain just bounced down all day.”
While at the event he was able to meet paralympian cyclist Rik Waddon, who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Mr Walmsley said that this Sunday (Nov 4) he will be going to the Manchester Velodrome, to see if he can gain paracycling classification.
“I’ll be taking my x-rays along to explain the difficulties I have,” he said. “Once I get this classification then I can start competing as a paracyclist. I only wish I’d done this much earlier.”