Swimming: Attack threatens Smith's Championship hopes

The World Championship silver medallist, Graeme Smith, has been forced to pull out of a meeting in Swansea this weekend as he continues to recover from an attack which left the distance swimmer needing hospital treatment.

Smith intended to join Britain's élite swimmers in Swansea for the second of three meets designed to increase the athletes' workloads in the run-up to this summer's World Championships but has had to withdraw to aid his recovery.

The 27-year-old was out for a meal with friends in Manchester this month when he was set upon by a gang as he returned to his car. With the World Championships in Barcelona two months away the Stockport Metro swimmer said: "It wasn't a nice experience when I was jumped by these lads. I had no idea who it was and why they were doing it.

"I'm healing well now but the left side of my ribs still hurts quite a lot. I had a lot of internal bruising around my kidneys and it's pretty painful. I can't go as fast as I would like and turning is a real problem but I'm hoping that by the start of next week I'll be 100 per cent again. I went into hospital that night and came out again on Monday. They kept me in as they were concerned about my liver and kidneys and did quite a few tests on me.

"I'm lucky it's just pain really and it's nothing too serious. Nothing is broken and it could have been a lot worse."

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