Calvin Smith

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Calvin Smith
Personal information
Born (1961-01-08) January 8, 1961 (age 63)
Bolton, Mississippi
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight152 lb (69 kg)
SportTrack and field
College teamAlabama Crimson Tide
Achievements and titles
Personal bests
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1984 Los Angeles 4×100 m relay
Bronze medal – third place 1988 Seoul 100 m
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki 200 m
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki 4×100 m relay
Gold medal – first place 1987 Rome 200 m
Silver medal – second place 1983 Helsinki 100 m

Calvin Smith (born January 8, 1961) is a former sprint track and field athlete from the United States. He is a former world record holder in the 100-meter sprint with 9.93 seconds in 1983 and was twice world champion over 200 metres, in 1983 and 1987. He became Olympic champion in the 4x100-meter relay in 1984. He was born in Bolton, Mississippi.


Smith was brought up in Bolton, Mississippi and attended Sumner Hill High School in Clinton, Mississippi.[1]

Smith had a dazzling collegiate career at the University of Alabama. Smith set the 100 metre world record on July 3, 1983 at the U.S. Olympic Festival at Colorado Springs, with a run of 9.93 seconds. In doing so, he broke the previous record set by Jim Hines, which had lasted for almost 15 years. Both Hines' and Smith's records were set at high altitude.

At the inaugural Athletics World Championships in 1983, Smith claimed gold medals in the 200 m and the 4x100-meters relay (which the U.S. team won in world record time), as well as a silver medal behind Carl Lewis in the 100 meters.

August 1983 also saw Smith become the first athlete to run under 10 seconds (9.97) for the 100 m and under 20 seconds (19.99) for the 200 meters in the same evening in Zürich, Switzerland.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Smith became champion as part of the U.S. 4x100-meters relay team, again establishing a new world record in this event.

At the 1987 World Championships, Smith successfully defended his 200-meter title. (At that time, the World Championships were held once every four years, whereas since 1991 they are held every two years.)

At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Smith was involved in the most controversial Olympic 100 meters final of all time and ended up in third position (after the initial winner, Ben Johnson, was disqualified: SEE below).

Smith missed out on what seemed like a likely win in the 4x100-meters relay in Seoul because the U.S. team did not reach the final following a disqualification for passing the baton outside the legal area.

Smith continued to run for the U.S. national team into the 1990s. In the later years of his career, he was named captain of the U.S. track and field team at major events including the Olympic Games and World Championships.

1988 Olympics[edit]

Ben Johnson of Canada crossed the line first, with Lewis second, Linford Christie of Great Britain third, and Smith fourth. When Johnson tested positive for anabolic steroids and was stripped of his title, Smith was upgraded to third position. Johnson was not the only participant whose success was questioned: Lewis had tested positive at the Olympic Trials for pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. Lewis defended himself, claiming that he had accidentally consumed the banned substances. After the supplements that he had taken were analyzed to prove his claims, the USOC accepted his claim of inadvertent use, since a dietary supplement he ingested was found to contain "Ma huang", the Chinese name for Ephedra (ephedrine is known to help weight loss).[2] Fellow Santa Monica Track Club teammates Joe DeLoach and Floyd Heard were also found to have the same banned stimulants in their systems, and were cleared to compete for the same reason.[3][4]

The highest level of the stimulants Lewis recorded was 6 ppm, which was regarded as a positive test in 1988 but is now regarded as negative test. The acceptable level has been raised to ten parts per million for ephedrine and twenty-five parts per million for other substances.[2] According to the IOC rules at the time, positive tests with levels lower than 10 ppm were cause of further investigation but not immediate ban. Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco who is an expert on ephedrine and other stimulants, agreed that "These [levels] are what you'd see from someone taking cold or allergy medicines and are unlikely to have any effect on performance."[2]

Christie was found to have metabolites of pseudoephedrine in his urine after a 200m heat at the same Olympics, but was later cleared of any wrongdoing.[5][6][7][8] Of the finalists, only Smith and sixth-placed Robson da Silva never failed a drug test during their careers. Smith later said: "I should have been the gold medalist."[9][10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Smith is married to Melanie, whom he met at college, and has two children, a daughter Brittney and a son Calvin Smith Jr.[1]

Smith retired from athletics in 1996 and was then for two years an assistant coach at the University of Alabama. He then moved with his family to Tampa, Florida where he has pursued a variety of careers. He is currently working for a non-profit agency that provides people with medical assistance.[1]

International competitions[edit]

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1980 Pan American Junior Championships Sudbury, Canada 2nd 100 m 10.51
2nd 200 m 20.94 w
1st 4 × 100 m 39.61
1981 Universiade Bucharest, Romania 2nd 100 m 10.26
1st 4 × 100 m 38.70
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 2nd 100 m 10.21
1st 200 m 20.14
1st 4 × 100 m 37.86 WR
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 1st 4 × 100 m 37.83 WR
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy 1st 200 m 20.16
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 3rd 100 m 9.99
1992 World Cup Havana, Cuba 3rd 100 m 10.33
1st 4 × 100 m 38.48

Personal bests[edit]

Event Date Venue Time (seconds)
100 metres 3 July 1983 Colorado Springs, United States 9.93
200 metres 24 August 1983 Zürich, Switzerland 19.99

Smith's 19.99 run, made him the second man in history to achieve both a sub-10 second 100 m and a sub-20 second 200 m. Carl Lewis having achieved the feat 66 days earlier.

  • All information taken from IAAF Profile.[12]


Smith was ranked among the best in the USA and the world in both the 100 and 200 m sprint events from 1980 to 1993, according to the votes of the experts of Track and Field News.[13][14][15][16]

Records and World Bests[edit]

Smith achieved the following world records and world best times during his illustrious career:[17]

  • world record of 9.93 s at the United States Air Force Academy on 3 July 1983.
  • world low-altitude best time of 9.97 s in Zürich on 24 August 1983.
  • world record at the 4 × 100 m relay in Helsinki on the 10 August 1983.
  • world record in the 4 × 100 m relay in Los Angeles on 11 August 1984.


In 2007, Smith was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame.[18]

In 2014, Smith was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.[19]

In 2016, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Smith, Calvin; Kendall, Kerry (2016). It Should Have been Gold - The Silent Runner Speaks. NDYG Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9970888-0-9.
  2. ^ a b c Wallechinsky and Loucky, The Complete Book of the Olympics (2012 edition), page 61
  3. ^ "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  4. ^ "Carl Lewis's positive test covered up". April 18, 2003. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  5. ^ Duncan Mackay (April 18, 2003). "The dirtiest race in history Olympic 100m final, 1988". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  6. ^ "Sport | Christie suspended after drugs shock". BBC News. 1999-08-04. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  7. ^ "Gold Medalist Listed as Banned-Drug User - The New York Times". The New York Times. 2008-05-03. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  8. ^ MacKay, Duncan (24 April 2003). "Lewis: 'Who cares I failed drug test?' | Athletics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  9. ^ "The most corrupt race ever". The Observer Sport Monthly. London. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
  10. ^ Duncan Mackay (April 23, 2003). "Lewis: 'Who cares if I tested positive'". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077.
  11. ^ Smith, Calvin (2016). It Should Have Been Gold: The Silent Runner Speaks. Publishing Poinciana. ISBN 978-0-9970888-0-9.
  12. ^ "Smith, Calvin biography". IAAF. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  13. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p 521-522.
  18. ^ "Calvin Smith". USA Track & Field. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  19. ^ "Calvin Smith". Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  20. ^ "Former Track & Field Standout Calvin Smith Among Newly Elected Inductees for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame". Alabama Crimson Tide. 2016-01-11.

External links[edit]