Event: 20km Walk
Olympic History: Rio 2016 (Bronze)
Highlights: 2018 Commonwealth Games champion
Coach: Dave Smith
Year Born: 1992
State Born: Kippa-ring, QLD
You would have assumed Rio Olympic race-walking medallist Dane Bird-Smith followed his father, Dave Smith, a dual Olympic race walker into the sport. But not so.
2 years ago today: 2016 Rio Olympic Bronze medal in the Men's 20km Racewalk. The journey to that day was intense and the racing electric, as tough as it was I'm really looking forward to grinding out the days towards Tokyo 2020!! #birdman #olympics #walkingthedream @ausolympicteam
From that introduction, race walking did become more prominent, but Bird-Smith remained involved in many sports, especially AFL where he played at state level.
Bird-Smith’s father was a modern-day pioneer of race walking in Australia, competing in the inaugural World Race Walking Championships (in 1979) and the first world championships 20km walk (in 1983).
He also competed at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where on exactly the same course 33 years later, his son would make his senior debut at a major global meet – the world championships.
In both their pet distance of the 20km walk, Dave, who is also Dane's coach, remains six seconds faster than his son, and on the Australian all-time list as they sit four and five respectively.
Early on in his athletics career, Dane Bird-Smith was a sprinter and even won a national medal as part of Queensland’s schools 4x400m relay team.
He made his junior international debut at 17, where he placed eighth at the World Youth (U18) Championships and the next year, placed fifth at the World Juniors.
At the Rio Olympics in 2016, he won bronze in the 20km walk and two years later, in his hometown of the Gold Coast, he won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Champion & Games record holder!! So proud to represent my country at the @gc2018 🥇 Such an exciting race, all respect to @tombosworth , Sam Gathimba, @benjamin.thorne for pushing me every step of the way. To everyone who got behind me that final lap and finish - You da real MVP. Absolutely unbelievable energy and I couldnt help but find a new gear and do it for you! #athletics #racewalk #birdman #GC2018 #gold #goldongoldcoast #recordsaremadetobebroken #aussie
In 2019, Bird-Smith he broke his silence about his own mental health struggles which came to a head in 2017. His wife Katy intervened, and he sought help. He is now an advocate for good mental health.
Bird-Smith will make his second Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020 in 2021, where he will again contest the 20km walk.