Lara Simpson, Christina Papadopoulos, Havard Haukenes, Dane Bird-Smith and Coach David Smith putting in the hard yards at Rainbow
by Barb Rees
Five years on and David Smith’s race-walking training camp is still going strong, and this year there is an international and Olympic flavour to the group.
When asked why, Rainbow Beach Dave is quick to answer,“First up it’s quiet, no distractions! Second, it’s back to basics training, real down to earth. With the dunes, the beach, the bush trails, Mother Nature provides the best facilities there are!”
Dave is no stranger to hard training and competition, having represented Australia in the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games in the 20k walk; he knows what it takes to reach elite level and doesn’t shy away from doing the hard yards alongside the squad.
As Norwegian, Havard Haukenes, states, “Dave is with us always. He puts in the k’s also. He is a great hands on coach.” Havard has been in Australia for two months training with Dave, “I wanted the best trainer and Dave is it. I am enjoying training here in Rainbow Beach. You have nothing to distract you, you just get the work done.”
Mother Nature provides the best facilities there are
Havard represented Norway in the 50k walk in the Rio Olympics in 2016 and came a very respectable 7th…that’s 7th best in the world!
Adding to the international mix is Christina Papadopoulos, Junior Greek 10k Champion, here training for the 20k walk. This is Christina’s first time in Rainbow as well.
Why Australia for training? Apart her mum being Australian, she did her homework when trying to find a coach and came up with Dave. “I was motivated by the high level of coaching Dave provides, also the chance to train with Dane and Lara. We just train, eat, sleep… repeat!”
Lara is 100-metre sprinter Lara Simpson. This is her second time here. “I had a year off to concentrate on uni and am now back on track. This is a great place to get back into it, and training alongside these guys is fantastic.” says Lara.
Last but not least is Dane Bird-Smith, who not only attended his first Olympics at Rio, but came home with a bronze medal in the 20k walk…. what an amazing feat!
Dave Smith’s junior squad in training…..future Olympians perhaps?
“It is indescribable,” says a humble Dane, “To represent Australia was an honour in itself, but to come home with a medal was just incredible.”
Dane has trained in Rainbow for the last five years. Why Dave as a trainer? “Well, first off he is my father…” he laughed, “and second he is the best.
“This is a kick-start to our training, a great way to get back into it after what we call our ‘active rest period’. It lays the foundation for the rest of the year, and I believe it really helped me realise my dream of an Olympic medal. The 14k walk to Inskip is perfect!”
Dave would like to acknowledge the support he has received from the Sports Club. “We use the gym and the pool every day and Rick has graciously let us use the facilities at a reduced rate. We don’t get to meet many locals, but encourage anyone that wants to stop and have a chat to do so, we love to talk about what we are doing,” says Dave.
Dave is very proud of his son’s achievements, and rightly so. Dane often reminds his dad that he has an Olympic medal. Dave’s reply, “Ah yes son, but you have a better coach than I had!”
What an inspirational group of dedicated, hardworking athletes. They are in it for the love of the sport, not for the money, as there is very little financial support from the government or sporting bodies/companies.
It was an honour to meet you all. You certainly walked your way into my heart.