Paralympian cyclist Simon Richardson is in a critical condition after suffering multiple injuries in an alleged hit-and-run incident.
The 44-year-old from Porthcawl, who won two golds and a silver at the 2008 Beijing games, was hit by a van while on his bike on the A48 near Bridgend.
A 59-year-old van driver from Cowbridge has been arrested.
Mr Richardson’s sponsor, Phil Jones, said the crash is likely to end his
dreams of competing in London 2012. The cyclist suffered fractures to the spine, a broken pelvis, a broken breast bone, cuts to his legs, and a “detached” lung, which means only one of his lungs is functioning. He was airlifted from the scene and flown to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
The cyclist’s wife Amanda, who described his condition as “critical but stable”, said he is likely to have surgery on Thursday.
Mr Jones told BBC Wales: “Although Simon wasn’t currently within the GB Paralympics performance programme, the times and training that he had been putting in up untill now were certainly making him a very top contender to be considered for the London 2012 Paralympics.”
Richardson’s Sponsor Mr Jones said the severity of Mr Richardson’s injuries was all the more distressing as he was involved in a serious crash in 2001, which left him permanently disabled. He was hit by a car, which left him with serious leg and back injuries and no feeling down his left hand side. Doctors recommended cycling would help his rehabilitation, so he continued, using a specially-adapted bike powered by his right leg.
It was during his five-year rehabilitation that he competed and won medals in Beijing 2008 and was awarded the MBE for his sheer “mettle”.
“He really is a brilliant guy, made of real Welsh nails, highly motivated, and with such a positive outlook on life,” Mr Jones added.
Gerwyn Owen, of Disability Sport Wales, said Mr Richardson had been training very hard and competing in his bid to get into the London 2012 team. “He is still a full time athlete, supporting himself, and he gets great support from his wife, Amanda,” he added “Long may it continue and we look forward to when he gets out of hospital and we can assess his condition.”
South Wales Police are still questioning the arrested man and inquires are continuing. They have appealed for witnesses to the crash which happened 0940 BST on Wednesday outside Crack Hill House, Bridgend. Insp Tony McAlinden said: “Simon Richardson was apparently struck by a small white van travelling in the same direction.
The van did not stop and continued east along the A48 in the general direction of Cowbridge.
Police would like to speak to any person who witnessed the collision, or may have been travelling between Cowbridge and Bridgend on the A48 and saw a white small van leaving the area.
Also anyone who stopped to provide assistance and who have not yet given their details.”
Two cars were involved in a crash at the same location following the collision. They were a black Toyota Avensis estate car, driven by a 43-year-old man, and a gold Rover 25 car driven by a 74-year-old woman. The woman has been released from the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend after being treated for chest injuries.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the South Wales Police roads policing unit on 02920 633438 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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