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Tommie Smith

Photo of Tommie Smith

Inducted: 1978, athlete

Born: June 5, 1944 - Clarksville, Texas

100 m - 10.10
200 m - 19.83
400 m - 44.50

At 6' 3" and 185 pounds, Tommie Smith had the ideal build for a long sprinter and his acceleration in the latter stages of a race made him virtually unbeatable at any of the sprint distances. With all-time bests of 10.1 for 100 meters, 19.83 for 200 meters and 44.5 for the 400, Smith still ranks high on the all-time list. A three-sport star while in high school (in basketball, football and track and field), Smith went on to San Jose State College, where he was coached by Hall of Famer Bud Winter. He quickly confounded all expectations, running an incredible 19.5 on a 220-yard straightaway and running the same distance on a turn in 20.0. In 1967, Smith won the 220 yard title at the NCAAs and AAU national championships. That same year, in a rare appearance in the 400 meters, Smith beat future Olympic champion Lee Evans by 0.5 seconds and broke the world record by 0.4 with a time of 44.5. In 1968, he again won the national collegiate 220 title before suffering a rare loss at the Olympic Trials when he finished second to John Carlos. At the Mexico City Olympics, Carlos led the 200 finals until Smith turned on his "Tommie-jets" and won in a world record of 19.83. After three seasons of pro football with the Cincinnati Bengals, Smith became athletic director at Oberlin College before switching to Santa Monica College as head cross country and track and field coach and sociology professor.

Records Held
World Record: 200 m - 19.83 (October 16, 1968 - )
World Record: 400 m - 44.50 (May 20, 1967 - )

1968 Olympics: 200 m - 19.83 (1st)
1967 AAU: 220 yd. (1st)
1967 NCAA: 220 yd. (1st)
1968 NCAA: 220 yd. (1st)

undergraduate: San Jose State (San Jose, California), 1968


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