Tate Smith was a surf lifesaving champion before he crossed over to compete in kayaking. He began racing kayaks in 2002 and made his U/23 debut for Australia later that year. Smith won four gold medals at the 2003 Nationals but missed selection for the Athens Olympic Team. Smith continued to collect medals in kayaking and surf lifesaving ski titles. At the 2007 Nationals Smith came third in the K1 1000m behind Ken Wallace and Clint Robinson, second in the K1 500m and third in the K4 1000m, securing a position in the 2008 Olympic Team. Smith competed in the K4 1000m in Beijing. Smith and the Australians made the semi-final but narrowly missed the final to be ranked 10th.
Smith ensured he was in the race for the medals in the K4 1000m at the London 2012 Games as he and teammates Murray Stewart, Jacob Clear and David Smith won their semi-final. The crew headed into the final as one of the teams to beat and they lived up to that reputation as they led at each mark to take home the gold medal on the famous Eton Dorney course. The crew had gone one better than there silver at the 2011 World Championships.