Key Points:

It was only two years ago when a distraught Hayden Roulston, confined to a hospital bed in intensive care, turned to his father Brian and told him: "That's it. That's the end of my career. It's finished."

An anguished Brian Roulston urged him to wait until he recovered from the effects of a serious heart problem, "and then evaluate everything", before giving up on his cycling dream.

Through the "miracle" of unconventional treatment, the boy from Ashburton is now on top of the world with a silver and a bronze medal in Beijing, and an opportunity to add a third medal in competition last night.

"It's just a pleasure to see him back on the bike, because he lives for it," a proud Brian Roulston told the Herald.

"The hard work he put in when he was younger - he used to go out and do three, four, five, six-hour training rides by himself in the rain and the wind in mid-Canterbury. You have got to be highly motivated to do that."

Hayden Roulston's dream was always to win an Olympic medal for his country, but it seemed impossible in 2006 when he was diagnosed with arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.

The rare heart disease affecting the muscle of the right ventricle can cause sudden death. Roulston was suffering shortness of breath and an irregular heart beat.

As he was reflecting on retirement at 25, it was a chance encounter that breathed new life into his cycling career.

A friend of Roulston's was at a restaurant when a woman collapsed. Julie Reid, a practitioner of the Japanese hands-on healing process, reiki, happened to be there and went to help. The friend saw what happened and struck up a conversation about Roulston's problem.

What followed was a meeting between Ms Reid and Roulston, and a course of treatment which helped him, against the odds, to make a successful return to top-level cycling.

"He rang me and just said 'I have met this amazing woman - what I am going to tell you will freak you out'," Brian Roulston said. "And I think his mother will still say she is very doubtful [about reiki], but you have to be a believer. And it's history now. Ever since he started the reiki he has never, ever had a problem with his heart."

It was not only the health problems that threatened to hold Roulston back. Run-ins with the law over fighting in public have also cost him.

"He's had his ups and downs," Brian Roulston said. "But he has put all them behind him now - and his health problems, and a few family problems, and he has come through all that on the right side of the ledger now. He's silenced a lot of critics, I can tell you that."