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“The best years are ahead of me”: How CBD is helping this former Paralympian get back on track



Will Smith competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games
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A Paralympian who competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow aims to return to professional wheelchair racing in 2021 – and he says CBD is helping him get there.

Will Smith, 25, from Northallerton, suffers from Spina Bifida, a lifelong spinal condition which means he has no use of his lower limbs.

At the age of eight years old, he competed for the first time in wheelchair racing athletics and has since represented Team GB, becoming a decorated Paralympian who was tipped to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, six-time gold medallist David Weir CBE.

Following a successful stint competing for the national team, both at a junior and senior level, Will side-lined his competitive wheelchair athletics to study law at university.

“I partly decided to go [to University] because I was always interested in the academic side of things while I was training and competing, but I also wanted to move down to London, because that’s where my training base was,” Will tells Cannabis Health.

“I managed to balance the training and studying at the same time, but as I was really enjoying the degree I was studying, I thought I’d like to really make a go of it.

“The training dropped off a little bit so I could focus on my degree and now I’ve graduated and landed my first job in the legal sector, I’m starting to increase my training again.”

Now working in the trademark department at the UK Intellectual Property Office, Will is undertaking an increasingly tough training schedule as he builds towards competitive racing again in 2021.

He has been using a CBD to combat the aches and pains induced by a gruelling training routine, as he targets a return to competitive racing.

“I plan to enter some domestic competitions by the middle of next year and then hopefully to kick on into the winter. I see the spring of the year after that as a benchmark to properly get back into the sport,” Will adds.

Former Paralympian, Will Smith.


While working to get his fitness levels back to competitive standards, Will has become reacquainted with the challenge of injuries and niggles that come with the territory of wheelchair racing.

Wrist injuries are common, as the sport requires a demanding clenched-fist technique on the push rims of the wheelchair.

Finding that these injuries and strains had a negative effect on both his training and his concentration in his day job, Will started using a pain-relieving CBD topical gel, applying it to his wrists, back of his neck and upper shoulder area before and after sessions.

He instantly noticed a benefit to his training capacity, completing longer sessions and recovering from his training at a quicker pace than usual.

“With wheelchair racing, you tend to see athletes really struggle with wrist injuries and shoulder impairments,” Will explains.

“Our bodies aren’t designed to do what we do in terms of the training and the force that we need to generate through these parts of the body.

“I’ve previously had wrist and shoulder injuries, so I would use it initially as a preventative measure before a session. I would put it onto the wrist areas and found that I could train at a higher intensity for a little bit longer without necessarily feeling those common pains that I usually get.”

He adds: “I’d also use it for niggles that I felt when the day’s finished to help with the recovery. With the training that’s required for elite athletes, time is extremely precious and valuable. The ability to use it as many times as you need without the need for a physio is something I’ve really benefited from.”

CBD treatments for athletes are not uncommon in the marketplace since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed the anti-inflammatory cannabis compound from its prohibited substances list in 2018.

Looking back to this time, Will remembers a stigma surrounding the supplement and a hesitation among the sporting community.

“There was definitely a kind of hesitancy,” he recalls.

“And with British Athletics being my governing body, they were obviously really conscious and tight on what you put into your body. I think now, as the market grows and expands, people are becoming more aware of the legitimate high-quality products on the market and some of the real benefits that people can enjoy from it.”

Despite growing awareness of the supplement and a widening choice of products, it was difficult for Will to find a compliant solution. Many CBD brands claimed to have products with low-THC without certification. As professional athletes are subject to THC testing, making many of these options were unusable for him.

In the end, Will settled on the brand, Biosportart, which has undertaken third-party certification from the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), confirming their products contain absolutely no THC, making it a safe option for elite performers like Will.

“Before I found this gel, there just were not quality products out there with the third-party verification that you could trust,” Will says.

“WADA removed CBD from the prohibited substance list, but they are very clear that any other residue of the cannabis plant, not just THC, is illegal.”

Will’s targeted comeback for 2021-22 will be welcome after a frustrating year in light of the COVID-19 climate. At 25, he feels confident that he is yet to achieve his athletic peak. There are still records to be beaten, as he still seeks to fulfil and surpass expectations that he will be the next David Weir of the sport.

“2020 has been a pretty trying time for everyone and of course I’m just thankful that I have my health, but like most people, quietly hoping that things get back to normality soon. Ultimately, I’d like to get back to the level I was at and of course, exceed it,” he says.

“I think the beauty of wheelchair racing is that it’s a real endurance and power-based sport, so we find that the guys who compete at the top level tend to peak in their late 20s or early 30s.

“I’m lucky that at my age, I’m still considered to have my best years ahead of me.”