A TEENAGER who had one of his knee joints removed after developing bone cancer is hoping to represent Great Britain at the next Paralympic Games.

North-East A-level student Laurence Whiteley, 18, is fractions of seconds off the qualifying time to be selected for Team GB in swimming at London 2012.

A 50m freestyle specialist, he has already competed in national and international competitions – despite having titanium rods in his leg that weigh 10kg.

His achievements were recognised at the Vibe Awards, a celebration of young people’s accomplishments organised by Darlington Borough Council’s youth service.

Laurence won an Against All Odds award after being nominated by his school, Polam Hall, where he is a sixth former.

The athlete, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2006 when he was 14, started swimming as part of his rehabilitation following extensive surgery.

Surgeons removing the tumour just below his right knee were also forced to remove the joint and part of the fibula.

Following the operation, Laurence had further surgery to rebuild the knee, including a replacement joint and titanium rods put into the thigh.

He has been left with restricted movement in his knee, ankle and lower leg, but has refused to let this deter his ambition.

The teenager, who was treated at Newcastle’s Royal Vicoria Infirmary, swims six times a week and does strength work three times a week.

He has also helped to raise money for cancer charities with school friends.

Laurence, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was a keen triathlete before his illness.

“I did swimming competitively before I had cancer, but I got bored of just swimming and tried running and cycling as well. I ended up competing in triathlons,” he said.

“I didn’t take up swimming after my illness to start to compete again, I just wanted to get some fitness back.

“Because my implant is made from titanium, it is about 10kg. When I first got into the water, it sank like a lead weight. But you soon learn to deal with it.

“I don’t kick a lot – I work mainly with my upper body.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, whether it would affect my sporting abilities never really crossed my mind.”

At his first appointment with the surgeon to discuss his options, Laurence was told amputation would not prevent him from participating in sports.

“My dad said that from a 14- year-old boy’s point of view, it was better to have my leg,” he said.

“It was only in the last couple of years I realised the Paralympics might be an option, and I thought I might as well give it a try.

“It would be absolutely amazing to get to 2012 and represent Great Britain.”