An­nex to the Olympics

High-per­for­mance ca­reers and the value of men­tor­ship

Annex Post - - LIFE - By Ju­lia Mas­troianni

For Michael Smith, his Olympic ca­reer as a de­cath­lete is only a part of his story.

Af­ter win­ning medals and break­ing records at top In­ter­na­tional events and be­ing Canada’s flag bearer in the 1992 Olympics, Smith has gone on to broad­cast­ing track and field events for the CBC.

The Cen­tral Tech­ni­cal School grad­u­ate says he al­ways had an in­ter­est in high per­for­mance, whether sports re­lated or not.

“That in­ter­est just hap­pened to start in sports, but the cri­te­ria of high per­for­mance — the sched­ules, the fo­cus, the hard work, the dili­gence, the sur­round­ing your­self with great peo­ple — cer­tainly trans­ferred into dif­fer­ent as­pects of my life,” he says.

Smith says his in­ter­est in sports started at age three when he would watch the older kids play dif­fer­ent sports.

“I have an in­nate feed­back sys­tem loop where I could watch some­one play bas­ket­ball and watch how they shoot, and my body could just do it af­ter I watched it,” he says.

Grow­ing up, Smith says he had ac­cess to a va­ri­ety of sports in­stead of be­ing pi­geon­holed into one.

“The fact that I got to try so many dif­fer­ent sports was a huge as­set for me. Ev­ery sport I would try and have fun at,” Smith says.

That led to him even­tu­ally be­ing re­cruited by the Cana­dian Olympic de­cathlon coach, who en­cour­aged him to move to Toronto for train­ing and to com­plete his last year of high school at Cen­tral Tech.

Smith views the coaches and men­tors in his life as in­stru­men­tal to his suc­cess.

He cites Cana­dian de­cathlon coach Andy Hig­gins as the rea­son why he chose to pur­sue de­cathlon in­stead of other of­fers for sports such as bas­ket­ball and foot­ball.

“Be­yond be­ing a world-class Cana­dian Olympic coach, he was a great sales­man as well, and he sold me on the pos­si­bil­ity of the Olympic dream,” says Smith.

Men­tor­ing and coach­ing has con­tin­ued to play a big part in Smith’s life, like coach­ing his young daugh­ter in house league soc­cer. In his busi­ness ca­reer, which he first be­came in­ter­ested in while at Cen­tral Tech, Smith helps en­tre­pre­neur­ial clients reach their goals.

“That’s where I feel like I’ve trans­ferred my ath­letic back­ground into coach­ing skills, not in sports, but in wealth man­age­ment and fi­nance. Help­ing some­body reach their goals is re­ally sat­is­fy­ing,” he says.

When it comes to men­tors in the com­mu­nity, Smith says he looks up to sportscast­ers Don Wittman, Ge­off Gowan and Mark Lee whom he also con­sid­ers friends who made his sportscast­ing ex­pe­ri­ence so en­joy­able.

“I re­mem­ber when Cathy Free­man won the 400 me­tre in Syd­ney. I still get goose­bumps talk­ing about it … but even with all those per­for­mances on the track, if I didn’t work with great peo­ple, it wouldn’t be fun. It wouldn’t be worth it,” says Smith.

Smith just wrapped up broad­cast­ing the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don, Eng­land, where sprinter Usain Bolt ran his last race. The event turned out to be a dis­ap­point­ment for the Cana­dian team with zero medals.

Smith is a former de­cath­lete and now a broad­caster with the CBC

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