TOM Hamer admitted he was 'absolutely gutted' after injury ended his Paralympic hopes even before they began.

The 23-year-old from Rawtenstall suffered a back injury in training on the eve of competing in the S14 200m freestyle in Tokyo where he was a strong contender to win gold.

Hamer had high hopes of upgraded the silver medals he won at Rio five years ago - where he finished second in both the 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley - and was also due to be part of the highly-fancied S14 mixed relay team.

In a social media post, Hamer said: "I'm not one to post personal stories and it is difficult to put in to words how I'm feeling right now.

"I've worked so hard over the past five years for this moment and I'm absolutely gutted to be pulling out of my events in Tokyo.

"Yesterday, during training, I tested myself to the limit and needed to attend hospital for medical treatment. A back injury has ruled me out of competing in the Games and this is just nature of elite sport."

He added: "I want to say a huge thank you to my teammates, the British Para-Swimming staff, especially my coach Graeme Smith and physio Ritchie Barber, and the rest of the Paralympics GB medical staff, without whom I would not have made it this far."

The former Burnley Bobcats swimmer, who is now based out of Manchester, announced himself on the big stage when he won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which he upgraded to gold four years later on Gold Coast in Australia.

He has also enjoyed a similar medal ‘stepping stone’ in the IPC European Championships - winning silver in Eindhoven in 2014 and then gold in Funchai in 2016.

On Hamer's withdrawal, British Para-Swimming Performance Director Chris Furber said: “The team have supported and helped Tom to manage his injury.

"We wanted to give him as long as possible but sadly he’s just not able to compete anywhere near his best. He has been an integral part of the team and he has pushed everyone on, so we’re all sad he isn't able to compete.”

Despite his obvious disappointment, Hamer said he will be cheering on his teammates and has vowed to come back stronger for the next Paralympic Games in Paris in three years time.

"I am absolutely gutted to not be competing," added the European and Commonwealth Games champion.

"But I will be supporting Great Britain throughout the Games cheering them on from the side.

"I am now looking ahead and working on recovery and preparation leading in to the next Paralympic cycle.

"Rest assured, I'll be back faster and stronger and ready to take on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next July."