Calvin Smith

Last updated
Calvin Smith
Calvin Smith.jpg
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1961-01-08) January 8, 1961 (age 60)
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight152 lb (69 kg)
Sport Track and field
Event(s) Sprints
College team Alabama Crimson Tide
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

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.[ citation needed ]


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 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 (see #1988 Olympics below).

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.

1988 Olympics

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. 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). 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. [2] [3]

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. [4] 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."

Following Exum's revelations the IAAF acknowledged that at the 1988 Olympic Trials the USOC indeed followed the correct procedures in dealing with eight positive findings for ephedrine and ephedrine-related compounds in low concentration.

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]

Personal life

Smith is married to Melanie, who 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

1980 Pan American Junior Championships Sudbury, Canada2nd100 m10.51
2nd200 m20.94 w
1st4 × 100 m39.61
1981 Universiade Bucharest, Romania2nd100 m10.26
1st4 × 100 m38.70
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland2nd100 m10.21
1st200 m20.14
1st4 × 100 m37.86 WR
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States1st4 × 100 m37.83 WR
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy1st200 m20.16
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea3rd100 m9.99
1992 World Cup Havana, Cuba3rd100 m10.33
1st4 × 100 m38.48

Personal bests

EventDateVenueTime (seconds)
100 metres 3 July 1983 Colorado Springs, United States9.93
200 metres 24 August 1983 Zürich, Switzerland19.99

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.


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 . [8] [9] [10] [11]

Records and World Bests

Smith achieved the following world records and world best times during his illustrious career: [12]


In 2007, Smith was inducted into the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame. [13]

In 2014, Smith was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. [14]

In 2016, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. [15]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Smith, Calvin; Kendall, Kerry (2016). It Should Have been Gold - The Silent Runner Speaks. NDYG Publishing. ISBN   978-0-9970888-0-9.
  2. "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  3. "Carl Lewis's positive test covered up". April 18, 2003. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  4. Wallechinsky and Loucky, The Complete Book of the Olympics (2012 edition), page 61
  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. Lewis: 'Who cares I failed drug test?' Sport – Christie suspended after drugs shock Gold Medalist Listed as Banned-Drug User
  7. "Smith, Calvin biography". IAAF . Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  8. "World Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[ permanent dead link ]
  9. "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 100 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[ permanent dead link ]
  10. "World Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[ permanent dead link ]
  11. "U.S. Rankings Index--Men's 200 meters" (PDF). Track and Field News.[ permanent dead link ]
  12. Progression of IAAF World Records 2011 Edition, Editor Imre Matrahazi, IAAF Athletics, p 521-522.
  13. "Calvin Smith". USA Track & Field . Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  14. "Calvin Smith". Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  15. "Former Track & Field Standout Calvin Smith Among Newly Elected Inductees for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame". Alabama Crimson Tide. 2016-01-11.