YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Double amputee trains for his first full-length Ironman Triathlon

Jul 5, 2018, 10:08 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm

VERNAL, Utah — Sidney Smith is a father of four, a double amputee, and a triathlete.

Sidney Smith, 35, was born with a degenerative nerve disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder leaving his feet deformed.

At age 12, he relied on braces and surgeries to improve his situation. However, his condition continued to grow worse late into his 20s. Sidney Smith said his bones and calf muscles started to wither away.

“My ankles would roll and where my heel was is now where my ankle was,” he said.

Sidney Smith tried everything. However, surgeries and braces were no longer helping him.

Although Sidney Smith wanted to live an active lifestyle, his wife, Lori Smith, said he was never able to do anything like play football or basketball.

“The amount of pain he had to deal with on a daily basis was just crazy!” she said.

The doctors gave him two options: fuse his ankles, which would likely require him to be a wheelchair the rest of his life, or amputation.

Sidney Smith said it was quite the shocker when the doctor said, “Well you have the option to do prosthetics and amputate.”

Lori Smith said her jaw just dropped and she was speechless. She wanted to make sure amputation was the best option on the table before committing.

As a young father and provider to his family, Sidney Smith was concerned about his future ability to play with his kids, keep a job, and live a mobile life. But his condition had become so bad he could barely even walk without pain.

Ironically, Sidney Smith realized amputation was the obvious answer to give him the freedom to move.

After some research, Sidney Smith said he thought, “This is a decent chance compared to what I’ve had to deal with the rest of my life.”

He decided to amputate each leg one at a time. After his first surgery in January 2015, Sidney Smith experienced a complication when his leg became infected.

In November 2015, Sidney Smith had reconstructive surgery on the infected leg and he decided to amputate the other.

As he sat in a hospital bed post-op about three and a half years ago, Sidney Smith set a new goal.

“On TV they had the Ironman championship and I just felt inspired that if I were to get out of this hospital bed, that that’s something I want to try for,” he recounted.

Although it was still painful, Sidney Smith quickly learned how to walk with his new prosthetics.

“It took me a while to get the hang of walking and not feeling the sensation of the ground,” he said.

As soon as the stitches from his surgery healed up, Sidney Smith started getting in the pool to start exercising again. Within just a few months Sidney Smith was swimming, biking, and even running — something he always longed to do, but never could because of his condition.

“For me, running was something that I’ve always wanted to do, but could never do as a kid. So now that I have that gift, it’s something that I think about all the time,” he said.

Sidney Smith worked his way up from competing in a 5k race to a half Ironman.

He explained competing in distance races, “pushes your body to where you can’t go much further and your mind is what takes you to that next level.”

“When you take that mental strength to that next level, you realize that you are in full control of yourself,” Sidney Smith said.

Today, Sidney Smith and his buddy, AJ Rimmasch, are training for a full Ironman. They have a plan to train about 15 hours each week leading up to the competition.

“As a training partner, he’s a huge inspiration to me,” Rimmasch said.

“I’ve told him many times he makes me want to be better and work harder because he is working hard and being better.”

They start training around 5 a.m. each morning.

“There’s times I don’t want to get up. I want to sleep in and he will call me and say, ‘Are we biking tomorrow?’” Rimmasch admitted.

Rimmasch said people come up to Sidney Smith at races and say, “Hey, if Sidney can do this, I think I can do this too.”

Rimmasch also encourages Sidney Smith as well.

“Luckily I have a good buddy that would train with me and push me and convince me that it was something I could do. It just surprises me what things I can be capable of.” Sidney Smith said.

Sidney Smith is also a member of Intermountain Healthcare’s tri-team where he mentors other athletes — some who are also amputees, and others who are not.

He uses social media to share pointers with other athletes from previous mistakes he’s made during training. Most importantly, Sidney Smith encourages others to not give up.

“Every day is going to be a progress even if you are having a failure of a day,” he said.

Sidney Smith said today he is doing things he didn’t think would ever be possible. He can hike, hunt, and fish in places that he couldn’t go to when he was a kid because of his condition.

Lori Smith said she is proud of her husband. “He’s taken a situation that he didn’t have any control over, and he did the best that he could with the situation he was given,” she said.

Sidney Smith said it’s simple.

“I believe a lot of excuses out there are pretty much our own limiting beliefs… Believe in yourself and work forward,” he said.

Intermountain Healthcare’s tri-team holds weekly bike, run, and swim clinics. They also offer race-day support and personal mentoring from seasoned athletes like Sidney Smith. Visit Intermountaintri.com to learn more about joining the team.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

Dennis Cecchini talks about the overdose death of his son, Tennyson. (Ken Fall/KSL TV)...
Annie Knox, KSL TV

The overdose-reducing drug doctors say more of us should have on hand

It can fit in your pocket and save a life. After overdose deaths from opioids climbed during the pandemic, medical workers and advocates are spreading the word about naloxone.
10 days ago
Mother offers her advice for keeping her kids active at the park in the summer....
Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Ways to keep your kids active during the summer break

With Utah's weather so nice this time of year, you would think getting kids to be active would be a slam dunk. But it can be a tall order given the draw of smartphones, tablets, and video games.
18 days ago
Watermelon pizza - Skip the sugary snacks this summer and make fruit the star of the show with thes...
Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Make fruit the star of summer snack time

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Between the BBQs, road trips, and busy schedules, summer can be a tough time to get healthy snacks into your kids. For Intermountain Healthcare’s corporate executive chef, Alex Govern, a little bit of sugar goes a long way in helping his kids eat healthy. “We don’t say no to sugars,” […]
25 days ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

With warm weather arriving, keep your kids safe from window falls

It’s that time of year when windows are flying open to let in some fresh air. But it’s also when open windows and unsafe screens present a serious danger to little kids.
1 month ago
...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

Why Utahns are at higher risk for deadly skin cancer

Utah has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest rate of melanoma in the nation—a rate more than double the national average. Regular screenings can save lives.
1 month ago
A mobile team with the Salt Lake County Health Department administers COVID-19 vaccines at Rancho M...
Ken Fall, KSL TV

Are you over 50 or heading out of town? Get a 2nd COVID-19 booster, Utah doctor says

With COVID-19 rates rising in Utah and throughout most of the country, public health officials are most concerned about people over 50 and the immunocompromised. 
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Double amputee trains for his first full-length Ironman Triathlon