Q&A with Al Fontes
TCW: Who first introduced you to the sport of wrestling?
ROBBY SMITH: “Gary Snyder, a former head wrestling coach at San Ramon Valley High advised my father to get me into the sport of wrestling at the young age of 5. He felt that wrestling would be a great fit for me.”
TCW: What was your first impression of the sport of wrestling?
ROBBY SMITH: “I participated in many sports as a kid, but it was wrestling that I loved the most…it was tough, demanding, intense…I like the challenges it provides. No other sport comes close.”
TCW: How long have you had the dream and desire to pursue a spot on the US Olympic team?
ROBBY SMITH: “Around the age of 9 years old, I wanted to be an Olympic Champion and Firefighter. Watching Rulon Gardner defeat the legendary Alexander Karelin of Russia at the 2000 Sydney Olympics really motivated me to set my sights on winning an Olympic Gold Medal myself someday.”
TCW: Competing in the sport of wrestling since an early age, who were your mentors and icons that you aspired to become?
ROBBY SMITH: “My father, he’s a great man that I aspire to be. Coaches Mark Halvorson and Bill Martell of the Concord Youth Center (CYC), as well as Olympic Resident Coach, Momir Petkovic. CYC built me to the wrestler I am today, but Coach Petkovic perfected me.”
TCW: How much has Coach Mark Halvorson and the Concord Youth Center (CYC) been to your success on the mats?
ROBBY SMITH: “He’s been like a father to me, a great mentor. I’m here today because of Mark.”
TCW: Greco-Roman hasn’t caught on in the United States as it has in Russia and other Eastern European countries. What do you personally believe we need to do for the sport to find acceptance in the states?
ROBBY SMITH: Coaches need to change their mentality and encourage kids to compete in all styles of wrestling; Freestyle, Greco-Roman, Collegiate, etc.”
TCW: How big was the arm spin move in your match against Adam Coon? Did you instantly feel that particular move sealed your spot on the Olympic team?
ROBBY SMITH: “No, I knew I had to wrestle hard until the final whistle…until my hand was raised. I approach all matches with this mindset.”
TCW: Do you have any advice for today’s young athletes wanting to pursue the Greco-Roman style of wrestling?
ROBBY SMITH: “I encourage kids to wrestle in each style, have fun, and enjoy it.”
TCW: Wrestling has been an integral part of your life since an early age. Do you see yourself coaching in the future?
ROBBY SMITH: Yes! I love coaching a great deal…I am more passionate to coach others than to compete. I truly enjoy molding others in this great sport.”
TCW: If you were in charge of Greco-Roman wrestling in the United States, what would you do to build a program that competes with Russia and many of the Eastern European countries?
ROBBY SMITH: “I would start with the younger kids. Encourage them to enjoy the sport and provide more opportunity to wrestle the Greco-Roman style.”
TCW: What is your goal for the 2016 Olympics in Rio?
ROBBY SMITH: “Win an Olympic Gold medal.”
OLYMPIC WRESTLERS FROM THE GREATER BAY AREA
Ben Northrup (Lowell HS, SF) 1960 Olympic Team Member (GR)
Russ Camilleri (Campbell HS, CCS) 1960 & ’64 Olympic Team Member (GR)
Pat Lovell (Sequoia HS, CCS) 1964 Olympic Team Member (GR)
Buck Deadrich (Castro Valley HS, NCS) 1972 Olympic Team Member (GR)
Dave Schultz (Palo Alto HS, CCS) 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist (FS)
Mark Schultz (Palo Alto HS, CCS) 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist/1988 Olympic Team (FS)
Marco Sanchez (Independence HS, CCS) 1996 Puerto Rico Olympic Team (GR)
Stephen Abas (James Logan HS, NCS) 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist (FS)
Eric Guerrero (Independence HS, CCS) 2004 Olympic Team Member (FS)
Patricia Miranda (Saratoga HS, CCS) 2004 Olympic Team Member (Women’s FS)
*Robby Smith (San Ramon Valley HS, NCS) 2016 Olympic Team Member (GR)
Boris Novachkov (Fremont HS, CCS) 2016 Bulgaria Olympic Team Member (FS)
Name: Robby Smith
Height: 6’ 0”
Weight Class: 130 kg (286 lbs)
Club: New York AC
Lives In: Colorado Springs, CO
College: Northern Michigan
High School: San Ramon Valley HS, Danville, CA
Born: Jan. 30th, 1987
2016: U.S. Olympic Team Trials Champion.
2015: 5th Place World Championships, U.S. World Team Trials Champion, U.S. Open Champion, 3rd Place Pan American Games.
2014: DNP in World Championships, U.S. World Team Trials Champion, U.S. Open Champion, Dave Schultz Memorial International Champion, 3rd Place Granma Cup.
2013: 5th Place World Championships, Lakrikov Championships Champion, Haavisto Cup Champion, New York AC International Champion, U.S. World Team Trials Champion, 2nd Place Pan American Championships, 3rd Place U.S. Open, 4th Place Dave Schultz Memorial International.
2012: Final Olympic Trials Qualifier Champion, Haavisto Cup Champion, New York AC International Champion, 3rd Place U.S. Olympic Team Trials, 5th Place Haparanda Cup.
2011: 2nd Place U.S. Open, 2nd Place Sunkist Kids International Open, 2nd Place Pan American Championships, Third Place Grand Prix of Slovenia, 3rd Place Dave Schultz Memorial International, 5th Place Hungarian Grand Prix.
2010: New York AC International Champion, Sunkist Kids International Champion, 2nd Place Dave Schultz Memorial International, 3rd Place U.S. World Team Trials, 3rd Place Haparanda Cup, 3rd Place Granma Cup, 4th Place U.S. Open.
2009: 2nd Place New York AC International, 5th Place Vantaa Cup (Finland), 7th Place World University Championships.
2008: 3rd Place University Nationals, 4th Place U.S. Open, 5th Place Cristo Lutte Seniors, 5th Place U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
2007: 4th Place U.S. World Team Trials, 5th Place U.S. Nationals.
2006: 3rd Place New York AC Holiday International Open, 3rd Place Sunkist Kids/ASU International Open.
Personal: Son of Rob and Kim Smith…Has two sisters, Colleen and Crystal. Hobbies include spending time with friends and family, and dancing.
High School Results (Class of 2005):
3x California State Medalist – 8th, 7th, 4th
2x Junior National Champion
3x Junior All-American – FS/GR
Cadet National Champion
3x Cadet All-Americans – FS/GR
3x CIF North Coast Section Champion
4x CIF North Coast Section Medalist
The TCW wishes Robby Smith “Good Luck” in Rio…Bring home the Gold!