Brave Tokyo 2020 diver who can only be in water for ONE HOUR because of rare skin condition that feels like needles

MEN'S synchronised 3m springboard diver Sho Sakai has a rare skin condition which only allows him to be in the water for ONE HOUR.

If he stays in for longer, it feels like needles stabbing into him.


Sakai has battled with the rare condition cholinergic urticaria since 2010.

The condition causes a breakout of hives, limiting his training in the pool to just one hour a day.

The Japanese diver uses injections and acupuncture therapy to help treat the issue.

But he strictly avoids medication over concerns about breaking doping rules.

Sakai admitted that doctors warned against him pursuing a diving career as a result of the condition.

However the 28-year-old, determined more than ever, made it to the Olympic Games at Rio in 2016 and in his home country of Japan.

On his skin condition, Sakai said: "It is like the stinging pain of a needle being stuck into your skin and, while low body temperature can keep the symptoms under control, it is impossible for me, as an athlete, to do that all the time.

"In the pool, I sweat after about an hour and it hurts, so I can't concentrate at all.

"I was even told by a doctor that my body was not suitable for a career as an athlete.

It is like the stinging pain of a needle being stuck into your skin.

"That was shocking and it was hard for me to accept that an illness I had never heard of might cause me to stop competing.

"I hated every day but, after staying at home for two months, I was able to face up to things properly.

"I am always conscious of keeping my body temperature as low as possible.

"I also care about my blood sugar levels, and I try to avoid exposure to too much sunlight."

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Sakai competed in the men's synchronised 3m springboard final on Wednesday and impressively came 5th with partner Ken Terauchi.

China's duo of Zongyuan Wang and Siyi Xie took the all-important gold medal, Team USA took silver.

And Germany came in at third picking up the bronze medal.

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