John Smith (athlete)

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John Smith
Personal information
Born 1950-08-05

John Walton Smith (born August 5, 1950 in Los Angeles, California) is a former American athlete, who competed in the sprints events during his career. He is best known for winning the men's 400 metres event at the 1971 Pan American Games. He remains the world record holder for the 440 yard dash at 44.5 seconds.[1] He set the record while winning the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 26, 1971 while running for the Southern California Striders.[2] The record has stood since then due to metrification in the sport. Contemporary athletes running the 400 metres rarely run or are timed officially for the extra 2.34 meters to equal 440 yards.

After retiring from competition, he became a sprint coach, training Maurice Greene and Ato Boldon amongst others. At the time, his team called HSI[3] (standing for Hudson Smith International) was the top sprint team in the world.[1][4] He now coaches Carmelita Jeter,[5] who holds the second fastest 100 m time after Florence Griffith-Joyner. He also coaches Norwegian sprinter Jaysuma Saidy Ndure.