Buchanan triathlete gives advice at Steelhead

Published 9:27 pm Saturday, July 31, 2004

By Staff
BENTON HARBOR -- Buchanan native Michael Smedley, a member of the USA Triathlon World Championship Team, will participate in Sunday's Whirlpool Steelhead Triathlon.
Smedley, a Berrien County IronKid, will also be on hand during Saturday's Fifth Third Bank Kids Triathlon to give pointers and assistance to the young runners.
This is the second year for the Steelhead, a half-Ironman event that runs through Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and parts of Van Buren County.
Smedley isn't participating in the Steelhead. Instead, he will circulate through the transition area on Sunday, answering technical and nutritional questions, as well as any others that might arise. He will be using the race as a training day.
The Steelhead Triathlon starts at 7 a.m. with a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Michigan, ending at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor. From there, participants start a 56-mile bike ride through rural Berrien and Van Buren counties. The third leg of the event is a 13.2-mile run along the St. Joseph River.
Saturday's Fifth Third Bank Kids Triathlon will start and end at the St. Joseph River Yacht Club. Youngsters ages 7-10 will swim 100 meters, bike four kilometers and run one kilometer. The distances will be doubled for the 11-14 year-old age group.
Smedley has ranked in the top six triathletes in the United States every year for the past eight years. A professional triathlete whose sponsors include Lockerman.com and The Columbia Restaurant Group, he typically trains 24 hours a week. He has also been featured in Speedo ads.
The Buchanan native started triathlons as an 11-year-old. In 1987, he won the IronKids National Championship for 13-year-olds.
He was salutatorian of his class at Buchanan High School in 1992. While at Buchanan, he was a two-time state champion in cross country and track. He was voted Michigan High School Athlete of the Year his senior season.
Smedley then ran cross country at Notre Dame, where he earned a degree in finance and business economics in 1996.
He returned to the sport after college with the 1995 Schu's International Triathlon in St. Joseph. He has averaged almost 17 races a year for the past nine years and has completed nearly 150 triathlons.
A six-time member of the USA Triathlon World Championship Team, he came close to qualifying for the Olympic games in 2000 and 2004. This year, he earned fourth place in the Olympic Trials in Honolulu. Only the first-place winner of the trials was granted a spot in the Athens Olympics.
Smedley won a silver medal at the Pan American Championships in 1999. He also earned a bronze medal finish at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials in Sidney and a 17th-place finish at the Goodwill Games in 2002.