What did former Olympic bobsled team member Lorenzo Smith III think of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea?
“I watched the Games and really enjoyed them. It was tough watching on delay, but since Korea was my first military duty station, I was excited to see the country’s culture infused throughout the Games. Of course, it’s always a blast yelling U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! at the TV.”
Smith is also a graduate of West Point and Columbia University and a U.S. Army veteran. His mother, Gloria, has been employed at CSL Behring’s world-class manufacturing facility in Kankakee, Illinois, for more than 45 years. His family played a big role in his success.
“Hard work and competition were common themes in the Smith household. When I look at my mom’s 45 years at CSL Behring, I can’t help but think I’m fortunate to have her genes. Her traits of hard work, perseverance, and dedication permeate the entire family and certainly played—and continue to play—a major part in my overall success.”
Smith competed as brakeman in one of two bobsleds for the U.S. Bobsled team in the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy. His journey to the Olympics began at West Point after meeting someone training for the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, who convinced him to try out. Though he fell short of making the 2002 Olympic team, he paid close attention to the those Games while watching from his barracks in South Korea.
“All the guys I competed against in the original tryout were on TV, and they won silver and bronze at the Salt Lake City Games. Speed and power athletes tend to do well in bobsled, and I trained my whole life to be faster and stronger. I knew I had to give the sport another try.”
On the next try, he did make it. Smith and his teammates had an impressive sixth place finish in the 2006 Games. When asked what it was like to participate in the Olympics, Smith explained: “Words can’t really describe it. To wear the red, white, and blue; to represent your country at the highest level is truly an honor. I’m fortunate that I got a chance to share that moment with my immediate support staff—20+ family and friends saw me compete in Torino--but also with the entire Kankakee community. So many coaches, teachers, and mentors helped me prepare for that moment; I’m truly blessed.”
After Smith retired from bobsled, he went to Columbia Business School. He’s been in financial services since graduation. He currently works as a banker in asset and wealth management at a large financial services company, helping clients with their long-term financial needs.
He is also still involved with the Olympics.
“Given the opportunities that the Olympics have afforded me, I feel obligated to stay involved with the Olympic movement,” he said.
He’s worked on several committees, but says the most challenging was his role on the Olympic Team Selection Committee.
“I served as a member of the six-person committee that chose the 2010 and 2014 Olympic bobsled teams," he said. "Most recently, I joined the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Board of Directors where we work to make sure athletes have the tools and resources necessary to get on the podium.”
While he never really dreamed of becoming an Olympian, he always wanted to be the very best in his respective field, sports or otherwise.
“My parents helped me realize at an early age that talent was overrated, and if I worked really hard at anything, I had a chance to excel.”
When asked about his advice to young athletes, he references a quote from Brazilian soccer legend Pele: "Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."
Smith says this is relevant on the field as well as in the boardroom.
“There is no substitute for working hard and being a student of the game and a true expert in your craft. It’s so important to put in the work and effort to be the best version of yourself. In doing so, you’ll be a craftsman, and the level of fulfillment that comes is the real reward.”