Nathan Smith’s not used to being the most talked about son in the family, but for the next 12 days the Paralympic cyclist is hoping to give his parents every reason to gloat.
Turning 36 on Wednesday, Nathan, who’s the older brother of All Black Conrad Smith, is set to debut at his first Paralympic games in London.
And after a whirlwind eight years since waking up in a London hospital with his leg amputated above the knee, the former Taranaki Rugby rep couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of testing himself on the big stage.
Writing to friends and family just a couple of days prior to arriving in London, Smith was relaying the positives of his most recent experiences, “I’m probably the luckiest one legged cyclist in the world at the moment, living in the north of Italy, training on a fast velodrome and riding around beautiful lakes and mountains and old villages. It’s just come around so fast, 8 years has just gone so quickly – I just love racing my bike on a Saturday, looking after the kids, working a full time job and I’ve just been so fortunate that High Performance New Zealand have been so supportive of disabled athletes.”
“The track in Northern Italy was really good, really fast and we pretty much had it to ourselves so we’re in pretty good shape,” Smith quipped about his build up to the games.
The whole Olympic set up can be somewhat overwhelming to a debutant but other than the food hall there’s no distracting the Taranaki father from the job at hand, “the food hall’s kind of like a big Mitre 10 Mega of food selection, you wander around in a daze for about ten minutes before you make your decision on what you want to eat.”
And although not competing in his more favoured Pursuit for two days following the opening ceremony, he and Coach Brendon Cameron are considering forgoing the celebration and competing in an earlier event, on the first day of competition. “I’m not sure yet, that race isn’t really my key event but my coach thinks experiencing six thousand screaming fans in the velodrome might be a good idea before I race in my Pursuit.”
Smith’s toughest competition will come in the form of two local lads and an Australian in the Men’s C3 Pursuit.