From one Olympic Dream to the Next – Bronwyn Smith Feature
The pinnacle of many sports, the Olympic dream like no other. Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayer) not only achieved it but surpassed that, with a gold medal at the Sydney Olympic Games. Aside from her playing career achievements, Bronwyn continues to make a substantial impact to the Water Polo community through her role as Women’s Operations Manager for Water Polo Australia.
Bronwyn’s experience in the national team spanned for 12 years; making her debut in 1992 to then retiring in 2004. In leading up to the Olympic dream, Bronwyn was surrounded with family whom she could look up to; her uncle David Woods representing Australia in Water Polo at two Olympic Games. According to Bronwyn, it was a small stepping stone for her development as an elite athlete.
“I really looked up to my uncles as I was growing up, Uncle David especially. He was such an inspiration to me having gone to two Olympics and that really inspired me to go for my dreams,” she said.
Between 1992 and 2004, Bronwyn won two gold, one silver and two bronzes at the elite level. She competed in four World Championships and two Olympic Games; winning a gold medal at the FINA World Cup in 1995 and Olympics Games in 2000 both in Sydney. Bronwyn claimed constant success at State level; winning six national titles in 1992, ’93, ’94, ’96, ’97 and ’99. Her major highlight overall was the gold medal in Sydney in front of her home crowd and alongside her cousin Taryn Woods.
“It was a really surreal feeling to be playing in front of such a huge crowd,” she said.
“It was an amazing feeling to have so many people I knew there watching that game and us winning so it was just incredible.”
Transitioning from an athlete post retirement, Bronwyn took time away from the sport where she now has three kids with Joel (15), Layla (12) and Indie (10) involved with Water Polo. Bronwyn’s passion has now seen her elevate to a professional role within the sport; where she is Women’s Operations Manager at Water Polo Australia. Bronwyn now works with the Australian Stingers, an important element in her life as an athlete.
“I still love the sport though obviously and throughout that time I came in and out of playing National League because I love playing, being fit and competing,” she said.
“But in having that break for quite a long time I have then gone on to take Women’s Operations Manager at Water Polo Australia which I am really loving being back involved at high level Water Polo and supporting the Stingers which obviously is such an important part of my life.”
“I am really enjoying being able to help the Stingers wherever I can and being involved in that process of them achieving their Olympic dream and hopefully getting another gold medal.”
The route for most players after a successful career is to continue as a coach. Bronwyn’s experiences within the pool have helped develop her as a coach to whom now she is coaching the U16A Balmain Boys’ Team.
“I guess I found it quite difficult to going back and coaching kids starting with Flippaball as it took me a few years to improve on working with juniors and beginners,” she said.
“Now I’ve definitely learnt a lot more on how to teach Water Polo from the beginning and go back to the basics and am now enjoying coaching U16 Boys. I feel I can offer more in that area now tactically with them understanding the game more and I have enjoyed passing on that knowledge. It’s been a good process and has made me a better coach.”
Bronwyn’s M16A Balmain side will be taking on UNSW Wests Black at 5:00pm at Ashfield Aquatic Centre this Sunday.
Written by Vangeli Kollias (Communications Coordinator)