“My life without braces is ending,” Darr Smith tweeted on August 6. “The braces go on today.”
Let’s hope that little bit of extra metal doesn’t slow him down—the 15-year-old Atlanta resident has a reputation to maintain. He’s a two-time USA Triathlon Youth Elite Champion. He claimed his second title earlier this month by edging out rival Austin Hindman in the finish chute after a 375-meter swim, 10K bike and 2.5K run. “He actually outsprinted his competition this year and last year,” says Lindsay Wyskowski, communications manager for USA Triathlon.
Smith only started triathlon in 2009 at age 11. “I am blessed as a decent athlete and grew up swimming on a summer league team and playing high level competitive soccer,” he remembers. “So when I started triathlon, I was a decent swimmer and runner. I have grown to love the bike.”
That first year, Smith placed fifth at nationals in Tucson, Arizona. “From that day on I was hooked,” he says. “I got serious with my training in 2012 when I stopped select soccer.”
Since then, Smith has gone on to win race after race, including the Blalock Lakes Triathlon and the Buster Britton Triathlon, which were only a week apart this past June. And what’s next? “I would love to be able to represent the U.S. in World Cup elite races and my dream is the Olympics.”
Smith’s family is encouraging of his dreams. “My younger brother always talks smack to motivate me,” he says. Which is sometime necessary before a race even starts: Smith’s least favorite thing about triathlon is cold water early in the morning.
Follow him at @DarrSmith98.