Name: Hayden Smith
How did you get into Bobsleigh?
I come from a rugby and sprinting background. After competing in a 100m race back in 2014 another coach told me that I was probably on the "too heavy" side of being a successful sprinter and recommended that I give bobsleigh a try.
What were your first thoughts about the sport?
I just remember getting to the bottom of the track after my first run and thinking "oh no, I just quit my job to do this". The only way I can describe that first run would be like being in a frozen washing machine on spin cycle going >100kph. I ended up going back to the top of the track for another run and liked it a whole lot more the second time round. It isn't a comfortable ride in the back, there are a lot of bumps and unfamiliar pressures; nothing can really prepare you for your first run.
Goals & aspirations: Compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea
Training requirements: Training consists of 8 training sessions (2 x pushing, 2 x sprints and 4 x weight lifting) and 2 recovery sessions per week. Generally a total of 15-16 hours/week.
Biggest challenges: Unfortunately I had a training injury in September 2015 where I broke my fibula and tore all of the ligaments in my ankle. The injury has been a big challenge with consistent treatment and follow up surgeries. I'm confident I am now back close to 100% with the help of a great team of health professionals and still consider myself somewhat lucky to still be competing.
How do you stay focused? I stay focused by keeping my eyes on the end goal of the games next year. I cascade overall goals down to daily training goals each day which allow me to focus on doing the right things now.
What do you love most about your sport? I love the speed and the adrenaline but also the camaraderie that you get from a close knit team that lives and trains together all season.
How do you qualify etc.?
To qualify as a team we will have 8 races from November to January where we accumulate points which add to our IBSF ranking. If our ranking is high enough we will be given the quota to nominate a sled (hopefully in both the 2-man and 4-man formats). Once we have the quota spot it's a matter of selecting the best team of 4 to go and compete.
Have you been to Korea? Seen the track?
I didn't get to travel to Korea last season for the test event. Unfortunately I had to have surgery on my ankle In February so I was still recovering from that. I watched the team race from back home and it looks to be a great facility with a pretty challenging track.
What's your goal for the Olympics?
Our goal is to start times that are in the top half of the field. Obviously we are challenged with the equipment we use compared to other well-funded nations but it's not really an excuse. Hopefully we can get a good start then have our pilot weave some magic.
Who do you compete with?
I first started the sport pushing Heath Spence but moved over to push Lucas Mata last season as Heath took on a coaching position with the Chinese team. We currently have 3 other brakemen in the team; David Mari, Lachlan Reidy and Gareth Nichols.
What does the road to the Winter Olympics look like for you?
We leave for Calgary in August and complete a training block using the Ice House. We will start sliding on the tracks once there is ice in October and will have races from November to January.
What do you do off the ice?
Off the ice I work as a Risk Assurance Analyst for Lion (a dairy and drinks company) here in Sydney. They are extremely accommodating to my schedule and always flexible with my training requirements. It's a rarity to be able to compete overseas for a few months each year and keep a job that continues my career development, so I can't thank them enough for that!
Can you tell me a little bit about your swimwear company?
The swimwear company is a bit of a side project. I really don't believe in asking for handouts from people without giving anything in return so it's a good way to help me fund my sporting endeavours.
Personal highlights? A couple of podium finishes (top 6 for bobsleigh) in Park City on the North American Cup Circuit last season would have to be my highlight so far. We had a great crew down there that worked together really well and that showed in our results. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come next season!
Advice for young athletes? Definitely to stick with it and keep working hard, with the right attitude and commitment to training you can reach your goals. Too often athletes with buckets of talent throw it all away with the wrong attitude.
Favourite Quote? No quit, all hustle