Bird-Smith wants walk medal in London

Australian walker Dane Bird-Smith has every intention of leaving the world championships in London with another medal to add to the bronze he won in the 20km last year in Rio.


And this time, he wants to ensure his coach and father is actually on hand if and when it’s draped around his neck.

Dave Smith was a walker with enough ability to compete at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, although he did not reach the heights of his son.

But Smith inadvertently upstaged Bird-Smith at the worst possible moment in Rio last year.

Smith was arrested by military police as he tried to get through a security checkpoint without the necessary pass so he could celebrate with his son at the finish line of the 20km race.

He was eventually released after paying a $3000 fine, but not before missing the medals ceremony.

“He was pretty devastated as you would be because we’d been working towards this for so long,” said the 25-year-old Bird-Smith.

“For his journey as well as an Olympian he knows how much it means and there was this moment that he was so disappointed that he was not able to be there for me.

“But I came straight in and said ‘that moment getting that medal wasn’t the moment that I needed you for’.

“You were there for me every other day, every time we were out rain, hail or shine.”

Jared Tallent has long been the public face of Australian race walking, but he will miss the London championships after withdrawing from the 50km event on Tuesday due to a hamstring injury.

That leaves Bird-Smith as the only standout medal chance among the walkers, where he is among the favourites in the shorter race on Saturday.

He equalled his PB in his most recent 20km race in February and has been thrilled with the times he has been setting in training.

In a 5km time trial at the pre-championships training camp in Tonbridge, Bird-Smith defied wet and windy conditions to better the Australian record by five seconds.

“I know I am strong and that I have got the speed at the end,” he said.

“I am chasing medals, I am here for the business end.”

And if that chase ends successfully, Bird-Smith trusts his dad will be there for the big moment.

“Every single time at plane security, or if you hear a police siren or anything, I joke ‘hey dad – they must be after you’,” said Bird-Smith.

“I think he has learned his lesson for jumping fences and we have all learned a lesson that if you are going through secure areas you have all your credentials and you take it slow.

“I don’t think it will be a problem here.”