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Travis Smith took bronze for Canada in the 2006 Commonwealth Games keirin
Veteran sprinter finds success in new program
For the past six years, Travis Smith has been the top-ranked Canadian sprinter. Winning two Commonwealth Games medals, seventeen national championships and traveling to countless international competitions – Smith has focused primarily on Sprint and Keirin events.
This year, Smith’s focus for the World Championships in Copenhagen is leading the Canadian Team Sprint team. This change is due primarily to hiring of Richard Wooles as the Canadian Cycling National Track Coach.
“When Canadian Cycling hired Wooles, they really changed the game. Wooles has brought new vision and direction to our team” said Smith. “The coaching staff has put a huge focus on the team events. Team Sprint and Team Pursuit for both men and women. Richard is a firm believer in qualifying for the Olympics through the team events. This is a huge change from the past when I was the only Canadian sprinter going to races by myself.”
Smith joined the Canadian National team in 2004. Over the next two years he competed at the top level of track cycling, competing in World Cups and World Championships around the world.
The 2006 Commonwealth games were the highlight of the Smith's career. "Earning a Silver medal in the Keirin and a Bronze medal in the Sprints was awesome! In Canada – that is worth more than winning a World Championship." he explains. "It was the culmination of four years of hard work. I went into the Commonwealth games full of speed and confidence. It all really paid off."
The progression did not continue into 2007, unfortunately. "I basically hit a huge plateau. I tried everything. I changed coaches, tried new training techniques, but nothing worked. I wasn't getting any faster. It was very frustrating"
The season would end on a sour note. At the UCI Track World Championships in Palma de Majorca, Spain, Smith was involved in a bad crash in an early Keirin round. The crash resulted in an acetabular fracture of his hip. Smith said, "I broke the bone that holds your leg on. It's taken two surgeries and three years to recover from the crash. One of the most heart breaking elements of the crash was missing the Olympics."
The commitment and vision Wooles has brought to the track has begun to pay off for Smith and the Canadian National Team. This year, Canada will be fielding arguably their strongest teams in recent history, qualifying eleven start positions.
Smith will be racing in three of these qualified spots. In addition to racing the Team Sprint, he will be racing the Sprint and Keirin.
Smith believes the focus on the Team Sprint has really helped him improve his racing this season. "Having a couple of my team sprint teammates competing for the individual event start position makes me work even harder. It's also great to be working so hard, side by side with younger riders who are, in fact, the future of Canadian cycling.
"While a good performance in the Sprint or Keirin would be awesome, a great performance by our Team Sprint team would make this championship a success not only me, but the Canadian National Team as well. That is my primary goal in Copenhagen."