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Tommie Smith - Kicked Off The Olympic Team

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldTommie Smith Biography - A Hard-working Childhood, Civil Rights Protests, Kicked Off The Olympic Team, Chronology - CONTACT INFORMATION

Kicked off the Olympic Team

As a result of his protest, Smith and Carlos were kicked off the U.S. Olympic team. The International Olympic Committee threw Smith and Carlos out of the Olympic village, and they were suspended from all further Olympic competition.

Responses to the protest were mixed, even among other African Americans. Some resented the fact that after the protest, reporters didn't want to talk about athletic events—they only wanted to know what the athletes thought of the protest. Some athletes made their own statements: long jumper Bob Beamon wore black socks on the victory stand, and the 400-meter relay team raised their fists on the medal stand, but not while the national anthem was playing.


1944 Born June 6, in Clarksville, Texas
1950 Moves to California with his family
1968 Wins gold medal at Mexico City Olympics, makes protest on medal stand
1968 Dropped from Olympic team as a result of his protest
1969-71 Plays with Cincinnati Bengals of National Football League (NFL)
1971 Coaches at Oberlin College
1971-present Coaches at Santa Monica College

Awards and Achievements

1966 World and American record in 200 meters, 20.0
1966 American record in 220 yards (straightaway), 19.5
1967 U.S. National Champion, 200 meters, 20.4
1967 American record, 200 meters, 20.26
1967 NCAA Champion, 200 meters, 20.2
1967 World and American record, 400 meters, 44.5
1968 U.S. National Champion, 200 meters, 20.3
1968 American record, 200 meters, 20.18
1968 World record in 200 meters, 19.83
1968 Olympic gold medal, 200 meters, 19.83
1993 Mt. Sac Relays Hall of Fame
1996 California Black Sports Hall of Fame
1999 California Black Sports Hall of Fame Sportsman of the Year
1999 Bay Area Hall of Fame
1999 Lemoore Union High School Hall of Fame
1999 San Jose University Sports Hall of Fame
2000-01 Commendation, Recognition, and Proclamation Awards, County of Los Angeles and State of Texas

After the Olympics, Smith played football with the Cincinnati Bengals in the National Football League (NFL) for three years, and then became an assistant professor of physical education at Oberlin College. He was then hired to coach track and teach physical education at Santa Monica College in California, where he has remained for over twenty-five years. At the college, Smith told Steele, he doesn't discuss what he views as trivial matters with students: how fast they are, what their relationships are like, how they dress or do their hair. Instead, he said, "I ask them what their goal is, what their future is, what they plan to do in life when they are through with athletics, do they have a plan…. Sometimes they walk right out…. I'm not there just to praise them and how they play. I make kids mad." Smith also told Steele that he is often annoyed by the shallowness of students' concerns, their emphasis on money and fame, and their lack of appreciation for the sacrifices made by those who came before them.

In recent years, Smith has been honored by those who see him as a civil rights hero. He was inducted into the California Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, and in 1999, he was honored as the California Black Sports Hall of Fame Sportsman of the Millennium. In that same year, he was also inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame, the Lemoore Union High School Hall of Fame, and the San Jose University Sports Hall of Fame. At the 2000 Olympic track and field trials, Smith was chosen to give the medals to the winners in the 200 meters. In 2000-2001, Smith was presented with Commendation, Recognition, and Proclamation Awards by the County of Los Angeles and the State of Texas.

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