Calvin Smith

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Calvin Smith
Personal information
National team  United States
Born (1961-01-08) January 8, 1961 (age 57)
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight 152 lb (69 kg)
Sport Running
Event(s) 100 metres, 200 metres
College team University of Alabama
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

100 m: 9.93 s (Colorado Springs 1983)

200 m: 19.99 s (Zürich 1983)

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 also won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay in 1984. He was born in Bolton, Mississippi.

Though Smith was one of the best sprinters in the world in the 1980s, he was a quiet and unassuming character and ran in the shadow of the more charismatic Carl Lewis.


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 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 Zurich, Switzerland.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Smith won a gold medal 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 gold medal. (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 receiving the bronze medal. 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 gold medal, Smith was upgraded to the bronze medal position. The race has been called by one newspaper "the dirtiest race in history",[1] as Lewis later admitted to having tested positive for stimulants in that year's trials, and Christie's urine also contained metabolites of a banned substance after the race. Of the top 5 in that race, Smith is the only one who never failed a drugs test. Smith later said: "I should have been the gold medalist".[2] In the ESPN documentary 9.79*, eventual silver medalist Christie states, and footage of the race shows, that Lewis "ran out of his lane... two or three times" during the race, which should have resulted in Lewis' automatic disqualification. This should have elevated Smith to, at least, the silver medal.

Smith missed out on what seemed like a likely gold medal 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.

His son, Calvin Smith Jr., runs the 200, 300, and 400 meters for the University of Florida. He’s “earned 16 All-America titles - the most in UF track and field history - plus one national championship...” and was an alternate "in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on the U.S. 4x400 relay.”[3]

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.[4]


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.[5][6][7][8]

Records and World Bests[edit]

Smith achieved the following world records and world best times during his illustrious career:[9]

  • 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 Zurich on 24 August 1983.
  • world record at the 4x100 m relay in Helsinki on the 10 August 1983.
  • world record in the 4x100 m relay in Los Angeles on 11 August 1984.


In 2007, Smith was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame.[10]

In 2014, Smith was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.[11]

In 2016, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Duncan Mackay (April 18, 2003). "The dirtiest race in history Olympic 100m final, 1988". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved October 14, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The most corrupt race ever". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Smith, Calvin biography". IAAF. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  5. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News. 
  7. ^ "World Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News. 
  9. ^ Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p 521-522.
  10. ^ "Calvin Smith". USA Track & Field. Retrieved 2018-02-16. 
  11. ^ "Calvin Smith". Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2018-02-16. 
  12. ^ "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]