A SWANSEA athlete has been paralysed from the neck down after falling off his bike during a race in Aberfeldy, Scotland.

Nathan Ford was competing in the British Triathlon Championships when he is thought to have come off his bike at high speeds on a wet section of the course. 

The 37-year old from Killay was taken to intensive care where he is unable to move or breathe without assistance.

Nathan was very close to representing Wales in the Commonwealth Games in swimming before switching to triathlon and having major success in Iron Man Games. 

At the time of the incident, Nathan was ahead in the race. 

He also runs a successful triathlon coaching business based in Swansea alongside his wife Catrin Ford, who is currently by his bedside in hospital in Scotland. 

A friend of Nathan’s, Richard Jellyman admitted Nathan has a long road to recovery ahead of him after taking the full force of the accident to his head and neck. 

He said: “It’s come as a massive shock to all of us. The severity of his injuries is unheard of in the sport,

“Thankfully he is conscious and aware of what’s going on. He’s still got his personality, can understand questions and respond through moving his eyes and nodding and shaking his head a tiny amount. 

“His whole life revolves around physical activity, so to see that taken away from him is just devastating.

“He trains 20-plus hours a week as well as working full-time managing his athletes. Everyone knows how much he cares about all the people he coaches – he puts so much time and effort into that. He’s such a role model in the sport” Richard added.

Nathan has had success in the Iron Man Games

“In the first 24 to 48 hours after it happened there was very little hope of recovery, but every couple of days they are seeing a little bit of improvement

“His work ethic and his dedication to achieving a goal is unbelievable, and I know he’ll plan meticulously and put everything into getting better. That’s what spinal rehab is all about.”

In the next week, Nathan is set to undergo several operations to stabilise his neck in the hope he will regain some hand and arm function.

His wife Catrin has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for accommodation while in Scotland, as well as Nathan’s extensive recovery and rehabilitation in the future. 

On the page, Catrin has wrote: “Nathan is well-known and loved by so many, and we all know how strong and independent he is, but this isn’t a race he can win alone.”

Richard has also set up his own GoFundMe to raise money for his Everest for Nath challenge in the Lake District on September 21. It will consist of climbing 29,029ft of some of the UK’s highest peaks within 72 hours. 

It is hoped that Nathan will be transferred to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff once his condition stabilises. 

To donate to Catrin’s GoFundMe, please go to www.gofundme.com/f/nathan-ford
To donate to Richard’s GoFundMe, please go to www.gofundme.com/f/everest-for-fordy