Second Chance For Olympic Swimmer
Gold Coast Bulletin article | 28 January 2010 | by Renee Redmond
Gold Coast-based Olympic swimming hopeful Daniel Smith still has a chance at gold, despite crashing his car into a house while drink-driving.
The 18-year-old appeared in Southport Magistrates Court yesterday.
Smith crashed his car through a concrete wall and into a house in Salerno Street at Sorrento in November last year as he was trying to evade police.
Incredibly, he and his two passengers were not seriously injured.
Smith’s solicitor Bill Potts said deterrence was not an easy concept to put into minds of young men, who considered themselves ’10 feet tall and bulletproof’, but jailing his client was not the answer.
“Jail will cause significant damage to him,” he said.
“He has focussed his whole life on a yet-distant goal.”
Mr Potts said his client had a contract with Swimming Australia and had made a foolish decision on the night in question.
“Sometimes our heroes have clay feet,” he said.
Smith yesterday pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected, failing to stop and driving with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.102 per cent.
Magistrate Ron Kilner sentenced him to 18 months on probation, disqualified him from driving for 2 ½ years and ordered him to serve 140 hours of community service.
However Mr Kilner said he would not record a conviction as that could have a ‘devastating effect’ on Smith’s swimming career.
The court was told Smith had failed to stop for a random breath test and ran a red light before losing control of his car on a sharp left turn.
The car became airborne and rolled several times before crashing through the wall and into the house.
Smith’s trainer, elite Miami swim coach Denis Cotterell, said there was still hope for Smith to become an Olympic champion.
“He’s got great talent but it takes a lot more than that. You need the character to go with it – he’s got to develop that,” he said.
“He has to mature, it’s up to him. You’ve got to have absolute commitment, drive and passion.
“If he can find that, there’s a chance – I think there is still hope.”