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Helsby teacher targets national rowing medal after replacement knee op

A PE teacher is riding one the crest of a wave as he sets his sights on a national indoor rowing medal after recovering from total knee replacement.

Martin Smiddy MBE, a teacher at Helsby High School, took to indoor rowing when a foot injury put paid to the road-running he had enjoyed for many years.

The change in sport suited Martin, who lives in Frodsham with wife Kate, and one of his early competitive successes was a bronze medal in the Welsh Indoor Championships.

He even managed to overcome a shoulder injury in 2012 and was quickly back rowing following surgery at Spire Cheshire Hospital by orthopaedic consultant Nasir Shah.

When he developed knee problems in 2015 Martin, who celebrated his 64th birthday in September, was worried his rowing days could be over.

He said: “My right knee started to ache during rowing and this caused a pain that began to interfere with my job as a PE teacher – something I just wouldn’t allow to happen, so training was put on hold.

“The problem was that I could either lock my leg out but not bend it fully, or, I could bend it fully but not lock it out! I knew I couldn’t just stop being active so I had to get some medical advice.”

Martin returned to Spire Cheshire Hospital in Stretton, Warrington, where he met with orthopaedic surgeon Nikhil Pradhan.

Martin said: “My previous injury had been for an upper limb and so I saw an upper limb expert – but this was my knee so I turned to Mr Pradhan who is a lower limb specialist.”

Mr Pradhan diagnosed a ‘bucket handle tear’ to the cartilage and warned that the problem was likely to continue. Then, when the knee locked again, scans showed that the cartilage had disintegrated completely and surgery was the best option.

He said: “Through years of wear and tear Martin had literally worn out his cartilage. This meant the knee had also become damaged and, at his age, I felt a total knee replacement was the best option. He is a very fit man and I thought a full replacement would allow him to stay active once he had recovered from the operation.”

“Everything went really well and after some initial physio and ‘tentative’ trips to the rowing machine I launched into full training after about seven months,” said Martin who received the MBE for services to local sport and who this year celebrated 40 years in teaching.

“The times I am producing for distances ranging from 100m through to 2000m are good enough to rank me in the top 15 of the UK’s over 60s and, over my competition distance of 2000m, I recently achieved a time of seven minutes 27.9 secs which has ranked me ninth in the UK and 21st in the world!”

Now Martin has his sights on the English Indoor Championships to be held in Manchester’s National Cycling Centre in February next year.

“If I do manage to win a medal I will be dedicating it to Mr Pradhan as a think you for his excellent work,” said Martin.

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