Media world reacts to passing of sports journalist Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith

Smith previously worked at The Courier Mail, The Brisbane Telegraph and The Australian

Australian sports journalist Wayne Smith formerly of The Courier-Mail, the Brisbane Telegraph and The Australian passed away suddenly on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Tuesday afternoon. 

Known for primarily his coverage and passion for rugby union, Smith also covered cricket, swimming and the Olympics, even running with the Olympic torch during the Torch Carry ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

Long-time colleague of Smith, Jim Tucker said that rugby union and swimming were blessed to have his relentless writing to chronicle their highest moments and analyse every issue for 50 years.

“It’s incredibly sad ‘Smithy’ won’t have the privileged seat he deserves at the 2032 Olympics after being the first to plant the idea that Brisbane should bid,” he said. 

“Smithy only knew full speed when chasing a story. If five phone calls had to be made to corroborate a back-page story, he’d make 10. You only hope he passed on enough of his craft to enough young journos so they know how fearless and researched they need to be to ever get close to one of the greatest of Australian sports writers.

“If rugby is serious about honouring him, they will ban his pet hate, the rolling maul try, for a full weekend of games.”

Journalist Mike Colman expressed that Smith was “one of a kind” and reflected on a time where his insatiable work ethic stood out.

“We were at the Atlanta Olympics and Smith had just finished a massive swim program where Kieren Perkins won the 1500m on the last day and we were all just exhausted,’’ Colman said.

“But an hour later a bomb went off in a park. I was rooming with him and when I got back to the room there he was sitting there in front of the television filing live copy back to Australia. I remember thinking “this bloke is a just a great pro – I could learn a lot from him.’’

Former The Australian Sports Editor Wally Mason remembered Smith as a dedicated writer with almost endless reserves of energy. 

“I never met a bloke more passionate about the sport he covered and the people who played and coached it,” Mason said. “Rugby mostly but Olympic sports as well – swimming in particular.

“He was a walking, talking, boiling over encyclopaedia of rugby and swimming and an old fashioned journo who had everyone’s number and spoke to a bunch of them before he wrote a thing.

“Loved the Queensland Reds with a passion, but he wasn’t a fan with a typewriter – always objective, called it like it was.”

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