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Tommie Smith

American athlete Tommie Smith was born on June 5, 1944. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, he won a gold medal in the 200-meter dash.

Born in Clarksville, Texas, as an infant Tommie Smith barely survived a serious bout with pneumonia. At 6 foot 3 inches (1.91 m) and 185 pounds (84 kg), he had the ideal build for a long sprinter and his acceleration at the end of a race was a trademark that made him one of the most versatile sprinters in the world.

While a student at San Jose State, Smith won the national collegiate 220 yd (201 m) title in 1967 before adding the AAU furlong crown as well. He repeated as AAU 200 m champion in 1968 and made the Olympic team. In the 1968 Olympic Games at Mexico City, he won the gold medal for the 200 m in a world record time 19.83 s, but he and a teammate, John Carlos, who earned the bronze, were suspended by the U. S. Olympic Committee and ordered to leave the Olympic Village for giving a Black Power salute while receiving their medals.

After graduating, Smith played professional football with the Cincinnati Bengals for three years. He later became a track coach at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he also taught sociology, and now is a faculty member at Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California.

During his career, Smith set seven individual world records and also was a member of several world record relay teams at San Jose State. With all-time bests of 10.1 for 100 m, 19.83 for 200 m and 44.5 for the 400 m, Smith still ranks high on the all-time lists.

He become a member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1978. In 1996 Tommie Smith was inducted into the California Black Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1999 he received the Sportsman of the Millennium Award. In 2000 - 2001 the County of Los Angeles and the State of Texas presented Tommie Smith with Commendation, Recognition and Proclamation Awards.

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