Interview with Michael Byrne

Mick collects his silver medal for the 1000m at 2003 World Championships in Venezuela

Mick collects his silver medal for the 1000m at 2003 World Championships in Venezuela

ok, first of all, for the record, what is your full name?
Michael Adam Byrne

ok, tell me a bit about yourself. Where did you attend primary school, high school etc. and what did you study at uni?
Eltham east primary school, northeast melbourne, australia Eltham high school, same, Melbourne University – bachelor of planning and design

what kind of food do you like?
hmmm, i like…king prawns, creamy pastas without too much cream, italian pizza & margheritas pizza, salads, chicken with avocado in any form, bul-go-gi beef (korean) …it’s beef sliced thin as paper, and cooked super hot in with vegetables and stock made of tea

jeez mick, I’m running out of margin space to write all this, is that margherita the place or the type of pizza?
the place

ok, do you have a favourite colour?

I’d have to say black right now – cos all our team casual gear is black! Love my reds and yellows

cool… name your three favourite musical bands

hmmm, hard one, they are pretty transient (long pause), live

(i’m just getting warmed up)
um, the darkness, definitely, and…

good choices so far (in my opinion)
hmmm…. and for 3… (long pause)

look, if you can’t think of one, I’ll just write justin timberlake to be controversial…
i’m actually listening to a bit of work with Dre’s collaboration lately

lets step back into some easier territory now. How long have you been skating for?

21 years, ew, that WAS easy!

how did you get into skating?

rink opened in eltham, older brother (rohan) started doing night sessions there

whatever happened to rohan?

yeah, um… busy with high school hsc, not so much skating… got into football, then uni

ok. what kept you coming back?

saw people flying, looked so cool, had a great sound of wheels on floor, smiling faces, people going fast and looking effortless (pauses)

I remember a girl I saw, very ‘street and hip’ back in the day – I was prob 8-9 and she 15-16, and she was FLYING on a sunday night, I just HAD to be able to do that

do you think inlines, and the accompanying diminishing of the “sound” has taken any of that away?

no, by the time that happened it seemed a little disappointing, but i was so enthralled by the technical side by then… i was on a mission

ok. Now, have the lessons you’ve learnt in skating been applied to things outside skating or vice versa?

both ways, I’ve had a pretty long career to date so i have seen things in my ‘outside’ life come across and help me in my skating, and definitely vice versa.

Handling pressure, meeting deadlines, handling myself professionally, being approachable, planning and design skills, analytical skills, committment to long-term goals.

can you give any examples?

as well as things that have happened in outside life that have given me perspective on my skating – like Shaun’s life.

seizing the moment, believing in yourself in whatever you do

what is your most immediate short-term goal? (doesn’t have to be skating related)

most immediate – basel WIC

I’m living skating right now, so the next meet is the next goal… although yesterday it was waking up this morning to go to the gym, that was a goal that took some attaining!

any particular reason why, in that instance?

hard training this week. A lot of things to do yesterday that had be leave the house at 7am, train, again at 9, then wasnt back until 7 this morning

long day…

how about your most immediate long term goal? (again, doesn’t have to be skating related, although it probably will be)

most immediate long term is the world championships

how do your parents feel about your career choice so far?

hmmm… my parents both want to see me secure in my future, but they have different ideals when it comes to what is most important in that regard though.

I’m doing what makes me happy right now, something i can totally apply myself to, see the ‘fruits of my labour’, and that allows me the freedom and means to live a life many people only dream about.

Based on where i am today, I would say my career choice so far has been very rewarding.

and is that what your parents regard as the “ideal” career choice? one which makes you happy and is rewarding?

not always, no.

But there is a generation issue there too… my parents ideals and expectations are based on their own experiences and opportunities; and mine have been different, very different in some respects, and i am very thankful for that – in large part to my parents

ok, how do you feel you went in the recent seoul marathon?

very well – i personally had a great race

I think our team (minus one member at that event) skated well together… at our first opportunity. Cheating aside, we were where we had planned to be, and were just undermanned at the critical moment

had you not been undermanned, what do you think would have happened?

oh, speculation is a funny thing. I am sure we would have been right in the mix for the finishing sprint. After that, it’s anybody’s guess.

Do you feel that this has contributed to your goals, both long and short term?


your performance in the seoul wic

sure, I (and we) learnt a lot and are all excited about the season and our coming races. Jordan and i, for example, haven’t quite had this kind of team environment before, and it is giving us a lot of opportunities

sounds very positive.

its that kind of feeling here, yes. Great to be around

speaking of goals, at the recent world championships in venezuela, you came second in the track 1000m race. I was fortunate enough to witness this and I observed that you were, in fact, leading for a significant portion of the race. What was going through your head during those moments while you were in the lead?

hmmm…staying fast mostly, being calm, letting what i have practiced happen, and placing myself on the right positions on the track.

You tell yourself it is go time, then i guess it is down to preparation + desperation

Mick leads the kilo at worlds

preparation + desparation… I like that. I’ll have to write that on my hand for my next kilo

In addition to this observation, I also noticed that your team mate Jordan Malone actually won that race by passing you in the final corner. How does it feel to now be skating with him on the same pro team?

haha (long pause)

why did i see that question coming…

its great

phew, I thought you’d smack me out for a second then…

we’ve both been looking forward to a leadership role with a team, and here we have it. We both have a lot of ideas and input, and there are always good things to come from getting fast people together on the same side

is there any hostile rivalry at all, or is it mostly friendly?

no, nothing hostile i don’t think.

we’re not that sort of a team… everyone is happy to see the others excel, and it is a very supportive (and sure, competitive) training environment. Everyone has their strengths, and there isn’t really a need to prove anything now that we are together, other than what the team can do when we combine those things.

are there any memorable moments or experiences which significantly altered or changed your skating life?

getting together with Desly Hill and Brad Hollingbery in 1998

my friendship with Shaun Thompson

back in the beginning, being a newbie, or nardbarner, in a club with Tony Hanley… who had a lot of stories to tell about the World Championships in particular, and racing overseas

well, I guess this next question really ties in with the last one. Who has made the greatest impact on your skating life?

there have been so many people, and i need to add Dante Muse to that last list.

if you had to pick just one…

(after a long pause) definitely Desly’s influence

our time together has been an inspiring, steadying, and learning experience… on my skating and my life as a whole

Is there anyone, skating or non-skating, alive or dead, who you really look up to for hope and/or inspiration?

(I should probably have said, anyone *else*)

(very long pause)



Mick, are you ok? that was a rather long pause…

My family, I would say I am constantly inspired by my network of family and friends

ok. Do you have any regrets? (again, not limited to skating)

hmmm…not trusting myself earlier on

how do you mean?

I think I was perhaps a better skater than i gave myself credit for, and in thinking I didn’t have something the champions had, didn’t back myself totally to become one.

The thing i was lacking, was the belief.

Would that be advice that you would give to all the budding young skaters out there… to believe in themselves and really back themselves?

Definitely. It is the hardest thing to work on ‘at practice’

hmm… tell me about it

but one of the things that separates those on the podium, from those watching on… and you can’t see it in any pictures

ok… now for some random questions to finish up

Who do you think will win the world hide and seek grand final – Osama bin Laden or the Weapons of Mass Destruction?

definitely Christopher Skase… I’d say he’s won, as he didn’t rate a mention.

Do you barrack for a football team of some sort?

sure, the mighty Bombers

I’ll just mention to those international readers that the “Bombers” are the Essendon Football club, an Australian rules football club based in Essendon Victoria

will we spare them the song? Actually, have Gethyn sing it and add the audio to the interview!

(I think we shouldn’t, besides I go for collingwood and gethyn is a hard-nut west coast fan. check out Gethyn singing here ).

What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Against the kitchen window of the Mogema country house, a cold 0m/s, regrettably

Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend?


and SHE has a boyfriend

though luckily, I believe it’s me

but between us, we have both

which is just as well…
am i coming across as fatiguing? haha

no, not really

so, has this been the ‘definitive interview’, in your opinion? I always wanted to do a definitive interview… they sound so classy, or tacky… I forget

hold you horses… this is the second last question… the last one is “finally, do you have any questions for me?”

ah, ok, sorry, took over for a second there

that’s cool

damn, and i’ve blown the ‘definitive interview’ line… can we make THAT my question for you?

though i wouldn’t mind going with “in a word, describe the Hyper 100mm frame”… and “broken” doesn’t count

We’ll get to that, but first, my second-last question. Do you have any non-skating-specific advice of ANY sort for ANY one who may be reading this?
(long pause)


hmmm, follow your heart, it is the only chase you will forever regret never making.

cool. I like it.

(cool, worried it might sound cliched)

well, do you have any *more* questions for me?

Sure, do you think you live your life differently now, since surviving your 160km/h meeting with a wall in a racecar?

interestingly, no. from a very young age, I’ve lived my life as if I’ve been on borrowed time… I’ve actually had a few very close brushes with death
(pensive pause)
although, it was a good reminder

I guess in a way, living a life on ‘borrowed time’ may go some way to explaining travelling backwards in a formula ford at the said 160km/h

well yes. Life’s too short not to do s**t… er stuff like that
anything else?

that’s it i think

cool. well, thanks heaps for all your time.

no worries, cool, look forward to seeing it

Its been a pleasure interviewing you. Good luck on thursday


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