Australian Speed-skater, Lachlan Hay, understands more than most the sacrifices one must make to achieve their dream of competing at the highest level. Having always held a childhood ambition of becoming a professional sportsman, in recent years Hay has developed into one of Australia’s finest Speed-skaters and is now a two-time Olympian.
Lachlan has been kind enough to answer a series of questions to shed some light on his career and give our readers an insight into what it takes to reach the top.
Firstly Lachie, thanks for having a chat today.
Thank you for the opportunity!!!
Most 12-year-old Melbourne boys dream of playing AFL or wearing the Baggy Green. What was the lure behind Speed-skating?
Yeah that’s exactly right. I enjoyed football as a young kid but something about the cold ice rink and skating around just had me hooked. Not knowing a lot about Winter Olympics when I started, it was just about the fact of skating on ice and loving the thrill.
Given it’s traditionally been a minority sport, were there many opportunities available in Melbourne at the time? Was there a lot of traveling involved?
Short track speed skating has always been a pretty low profile sport in Australia but we have still had the results. There was just the one club when I started out and only two sessions a week. Gradually as I progressed, I had to start doing trips up north to QLD where the national team was based, so I could get more skating done! There was a lot of travel to keep myself improving, but it was mainly up to me when I was wasn’t traveling to make sure I was training hard enough by myself to stay on top of it.
You moved up North in your early teens to follow your dream, how tough was that on both yourself and your family and friends? What were some of the biggest sacrifices you made?
The move for me was a tough one. Having to move away from family and friends was sad and hard. Only just finishing school and having all my school mates around was disappointing to just leave all that behind knowing that friendships would be tested. It was at the point where we were all turning 18, so going out was something to look forward to, but I made the decision to move and follow skating. This was something that my family have support me so much with. Moving from my brother, sister and parents was tough as we are such a close family and not having them by my side was difficult, but I knew I would one day be able to prove to them, and myself, it was worth it. I had sacrificed so much, with friends and having the life of living the youth dream of party’s and fun times, with 4.30am training starts and twice-a-day, 6-days-a-week training. Family dinners and birthdays, with overseas travel and competitions, all of which we tough choices but choices I made for me.
What were some of the bigger challenges you had to overcome at such a young age?
Some of the biggest challenges were I guess the fact I was young, that a lot of my friends and guys my age were out having fun together socializing, meeting girls, parties, and here I was training and working through the weeks and then traveling overseas to high level competitions with guys 10-13 years older than me. To stay grounded, determined and focused was tough.
Tell us a bit about your career path, when did you realize you could reach the top of the sport (Olympics)?
I first decided I wanted to go to the Olympics in 2002 when I saw Steven Bradbury win his gold. I had started training properly in about 2000 but really decided this was more than just Sunday football on the weekend. I wanted that glory of being an Olympian and wanted to give it my all. A coach of mine made me look in the mirror one day and say to my self, “I want to be an Olympian, I’m going to be an Olympian”. 4 years later I achieved that in 2006, in Torino.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence? Mmmm that’s a tough one! There has been a few for different reasons. My coach has been amazing, seeing my ability and never letting me stop or give up to reach my potential. My parents for being so supportive and wanting me to get what I had sacrificed so much for.
2006 was an incredible Olympic campaign for the Aussies, what was the feeling like in the camp, at Torino?
Torino was amazing! Being fresh out of school, a young enthusiastic kid at the Olympics was mind-blowing. Being a part of one of the biggest teams Australia has ever had at a Winter Games was incredible and the team was so pumped, and ready for results. We had a team meeting the day before the opening ceremony and it was just the best, seeing all the athletes and getting the pep talk from the team leaders was great. It was all a bit of a dream really.
In contrast, how would you describe Vancouver 2010?
Vancouver was everything I expected from an Olympics and more. The city was just so behind the Olympics it was amazing. I was a bit older and took it in a lot more than I did in Torino. Everything about it was Olympics, the people cheering, the village, the teams, the city, it was what I had hoped it would be.
Were you pleased with your results both campaigns?
I was very pleased with both games. Torino placing 6th in the relay, equal to the relay team in 2002 that had Steven Bradbury in it, but this time had myself and another junior, the only two on the team. Then in Vancouver, being an individual skater in the 1000m, placing 24th and doing the fastest 1000m time I’ve ever done!!
In recent years, the Australian public has warmed to the Winter Olympics and there is a real interest when they are on nowadays. This must give you guys encouragement, knowing your efforts are making a difference. What does the future hold for Speed-skating?
Absolutely! It has been getting more and more attention and with Winter sports in general getting amazing results, we have noticed the increasing support there for us. I hope to see speed skating grow and those who are interested know that it is out there and available for them to take it up, and maybe one day get them self to where I have gone!!
On a personal note, how is your form? When are the next big tournaments?
My form is getting better, I have only been back on the ice for 5 weeks after suffering an almost career-ending injury in January, just two weeks out from world champs. So I’m just trying to get some of my fitness back and get my skating form and technique back. I separated my fibula and tibia, tearing the membrane in-between both bones.
OUCH! On a more positive note, 2014… Not that far away now. Getting excited?
Hard not to get excited! It’s the Olympic fever, its like a drug, you just want it one more time. To do the 3-peat would be awesome!!!
Tell us about your average week as a Speed-skater. I understand you work at the Ice House, I’m guessing you’re a busy man?
My average week consists of a 5:30am wake up, with training on the ice for 1.5 to 2 hours. Then it’s work from anywhere between 3 to 8 hours, then gym/off ice training for 2 to 2.5 hours… Then home. It’s twice-a-day, 6-days-a-week training, with 30-40 hours of work in-between. So down time is a luxury and spent at home on the couch haha!
Wow! Very busy indeed!! What is the best piece of advice you could give to any aspiring athlete, in particular a Speed-skater?
If it’s a dream of yours and something you want more than anything, then take it. It’s yours for the taking!
Finally, who do aspiring Speed-skaters need to contact to get their career rolling?
Aspiring speed skaters can contact the Olympic Southern Flyers who are the club here in Victoria, to organize a time to come in and try. Or, contact the Medibank Icehouse to find out when they are skating so they can get down there to see them!
Fantastic! Thanks again for your time Lachlan and all the best for the future!