Dane Bird-Smith


Dane 'The Birdman' Bird-Smith born in 1992 when the number 1 song Baby Got Back rose through the charts, it was almost fate that this young man would be flipping the Kath and Kel wiggle walk on its head by showcasing the true speed, endurance and technicality of racewalking.

Born and bred in Brisvegas his only option for entertainment was sport and athletics was in his blood. His father Dave Smith is a dual Olympian for the 20km race walk competing in 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles games. His mother Denice also has a claim with the family tree winding back to an early 19th century professional racewalker from Victoria.

Through the persistence of a school teacher, Dane was initiated by the fire of a 3km race walk and by claiming a Bronze catapulted into a representative competition. Competing at nationals in the 10km walk, 200m and 400m with an international representation at the world running championships his versatility and athleticism tied with his burning determination were sure to carry him toward the international stage and his ultimate dream of an Olympic Games.

In 2012 Bird-Smith fell short of an Olympic berth by mere seconds yet disappointment was met with determination as he committed to a 4-year plan to "not only make an Olympic team but be the fastest Australia has ever seen at the games and stand on the podium". 1420 days of gruelling training, 24,000kms on the road, multiple National and World Championships always working for that final goal. The day arrived and Dane was ranked outside the top 16, he stepped up to the line and delivered a smart, strong and utter guts performance to finish with a PB as the fastest Australian at an Olympics and most importantly a Bronze medal.

Now he is moving forward to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Hoping to improve upon his Bronze in Rio will take a mountainous effort but the Birdman is just taking off and with the support of Australia the sky is the limit.

Dane Bird-Smith Q&A 

What do you love about athletics as a sport?
The purity of performance is never more evident than in Athletics, strengths and weaknesses are laid bare and it all comes down to one individual's preparation and execution of their mastered event. It really is the equivalent of a gladiator sport in that life or death, win or lose is entirely upon your own shoulders.

What do you love about your event?
For me walking was originally a challenge to show my dad, but I grew to love the complexity of endurance racing underlined with a necessity of technical mastery.

Is walking a misunderstood event?
Misunderstood and underestimated, until you try your first 100m and learn the rules in their entirety it will always be difficult for new viewers, but unlike other technical events or sports with complex rules, walking can be appreciated for the intensity and endurance of the race.

What traits do you need to be a good race walker? 
Strong concentration and mental fortitude, an eye for technique and the willingness to accept criticism, taste disqualification and persevere through pain.