Calvin Smith (born January 8, 1961) is a former sprinttrack 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.
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", 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". 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.”