Relationships

Olympic trampolinists Dylan and Maddie’s beautiful romance

Don’t call it a rebound romance – these high-flying gymnasts have found a relationship based on mutual respect
Dylan Schmidt and Maddie Davidson in front of a hedgePictures: Michelle Hyslop

While soaring to new heights on a trampoline, Dylan Schmidt and Maddie Davidson have tumbled head over heels for each other!

As they prepare for next month’s Olympic Games in Paris, Dylan and Maddie are opening up for the first time about their romance, which has blossomed since they both represented New Zealand in trampolining at the Games in Tokyo, where Dylan won a surprise bronze medal.

While they have different interests away from their sport – former Celebrity Treasure Island star Dylan loves playing golf and hunting, while Maddie is a talented baker – they share a mutual understanding of the pressures of competing on the world stage.

“We both know what it’s like to make one tiny mistake that can cost you a place in the final or a medal,” says Dylan, 27, who will be bouncing into his third Olympics in July.

Maddie looking at Dylan with her hand on his shoulder

The long-distance duo live, work and train 700km apart – Dylan’s based in Auckland and Maddie’s in Christchurch – but the Games will bring them together for over a month. They’ll compete on the same day at France’s Bercy Arena, with Maddie up first. She’ll then cheer on her boyfriend four hours later.

“It’s great we can be there and support each other when we compete,” says Maddie, 25. “We get nervous for each other.”

Maddie adds that she and Dylan have one important rule – that their relationship can never get in the way of trampolining.

“We’ve been clear about that from the get-go – our number-one focus has to be competition. It’s worked well for us so far.”

Maddie and Dylan in their competing uniforms in front of trampolines
Competing together in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Although they’ve known each other for over a decade, their romance only became serious last year. And it certainly wasn’t love at first sight – Maddie was just 11 and Dylan 13 when they met.

“The first overseas tour we were both on was my first world championships in Australia in 2011,” recalls Maddie. “We had different friend groups because I was 11. I was still in my very awkward ‘not talking to boys’ stage.”

Dylan laughs, “And I would’ve been chasing the Aussie girls! We’ve been around each other for a long time, but just as members of the New Zealand team. We’ve always lived in different cities, so we never spent a lot of time with each other.”

In 2019, they moved beyond saying a casual hello to becoming good mates as they travelled around the globe together, trying to qualify for Tokyo. But it wasn’t until after the Games that their friendship took a new turn.

Dylan and Maddie when they were selected to compete again, holding ferns
The couple celebrating their Games selection.

“It happened when we were competing at the 2022 champs, but it was a bit of a slow burn,” admits Dylan. He was named world champion at that event in Bulgaria. “Then after a year, we figured we’d give it a go. Maddie knew I was a bit of a jokester and that hunting was a big part of my life, so she knew what she was in for.”

Since then, Maddie has even been out hunting with Dylan. “I’ve always loved the outdoors,” she says. “Now I’m learning how to walk quieter and not disrupt the deer.”

For Dylan, who grew up shooting rabbits and possums in Waihi, it’s a way to relax and recharge. He explains, “I love getting out into the bush and the hills for a couple of days. I take a tent and my dog Taco, and I set up a fire.”

Dylan Schmidt ion top of a mountain in hunting gear
The keen hunter.

Living on different islands has never been an issue in their relationship, insists Dylan. “When you find the right person, you figure that out as you go along. We both lead very busy lives, working and training, and we’re both pretty independent people, so we check in when we can.”

Laughing, Maddie adds, “We’re never apart for too long and it’s actually easier when we’re on tour together! We both have a really good understanding of each other and what it takes to be a high-performance athlete. We have similar ways of thinking.”

And they have a mutual respect for each other, both on the trampoline and off it.

Dylan mid-air
Dylan in action.

Dylan says, “Maddie is the nicest person to everyone around her. She’s so tolerant and I can be more of a hothead. And she trains harder than me – she’s become an amazing athlete from pure hard work.”

Maddie adds, “He might come across as a very macho, uber-masculine guy, but he has a very soft underbelly – he’s so caring and super-kind.”

After competing in empty stadiums due to COVID risks three years ago, both athletes are excited to have their parents and friends in the stands in Paris.

Dylan on the podium with his medal and some flowers
Winning bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Standing on the podium in Tokyo was cool, but standing on the podium with a crowd full of friends and family in Paris would be 10 times better,” says Dylan. He came seventh at his first Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“I’m pretty excited to give it a good crack. Things couldn’t be better really.”

His unexpected bronze medal in Tokyo was one of the New Zealand Olympic Team’s highlights. Dylan recalls, “It was on a Saturday night, around 6pm back in New Zealand, so they cut to my routine live during the news. A lot of people got to see it who maybe wouldn’t otherwise have been watching.

With parents Jen and Andy.

“Since then, I’ve watched the video of people back at [Olympic fan zone] The Cloud in Auckland. Like, Mum and Dad, and all the people in the tramp community who followed me growing up. It was crazy – everyone was partying and I would’ve been stoked to have been there.”

Maddie just missed out on making the women’s final in Tokyo, finishing 10th overall.

“Even though it didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, I learned a lot,” she says. “But I feel a lot more prepared this time. Tokyo was an amazing experience and I loved it, but it was just lacking that
true Olympic atmosphere.”

Dylan and Maddie are proud to have helped raise the profile of trampolining in New Zealand to new heights.

Dylan and Maddie sitting together on an ottoman
Paris is a chance for the long-distance lovebirds to be together.

She tells, “It was what we needed. A lot of sports have been struggling post-COVID. The more kids we get coming through trampolining keeps the sport alive. If we can be part of it, that’s pretty cool.”

The couple will holiday in Europe for three weeks after the Games, before returning to normal life. Maddie will go back to work at the Flips and Tumbles gym, while Dylan resumes his job in risk services for PwC.

They both have tattoos of the Olympic rings – Maddie on her arm, Dylan on his hip – and they hint there could be more rings in their future, but they’re not talking about an engagement just yet.

For now, their goals are to both compete together at the Games in Los Angeles in 2028. Dylan is determined to be the first male in the world to compete at five Olympic Games for trampolining, and Maddie would love to be there by his side.

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