Tampa father and son share Olympic experiences


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – This week marks one year until the 2020 Summer Olympic Games begin in Tokyo. The official start date is Friday, July 24, 2020.

To help kick off the countdown, 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley wants to introduce you to two men, a father and a son, who have both been to previous Olympic Games. They also live in the Sunshine State.

The father, Calvin Smith, won two Olympic medals. His son, Calvin Smith II, is currently training to qualify for the Olympics next year.

“My mindset is just keep believing,” said Smith II, “keep telling myself, ‘You can make it. You did it once so you can do it again.’”

Smith II went to Freedom High School and to the University of Florida. He remembers the race that sent him to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as an alternate for the 4×400-meter relay team.

“I tell a lot of people that the reason I made the team is because I did not want to get last on TV,” Smith explained with a laugh. “I was in last place coming home for the last 100 and I was like, ‘Hold up! I got everybody watching me at home so I cannot get last.’ I found energy somewhere and it moved me all the way to fifth place.”

He needed to finish in the top six spots to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

Smith II had been introduced to running at a young age because his father, Calvin Smith, is also a runner – an extremely accomplished runner.

“I was in two Olympics,” said Smith. “I was in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. In 1984, when we won the gold medal in be 4×100 relay, I guess the most exciting thing was to stand on the podium and have the national anthem being played in honor of something that you helped the American athletes win and to hear that and have the gold medal placed around my neck was a great experience and an enjoyable one.”

Smith ran the 100-meter race in Seoul four years later.

“That was an Olympics that had mixed emotions because of all of the turmoil as far as athletes being on drugs. When Ben Johnson was disqualified for being on drugs, I moved up to the bronze medal,” Smith said.

He received that medal under the bleachers. He described it as a “bittersweet” moment.

“Yes, most definitely,” said Smith. “I enjoyed being at both Olympics but the second Olympics had a dark side as far as the way the medals were done.”

What are his thoughts on his son’s final run to the Olympic stage?

“Anything is possible,” he said. “He has to go out and work hard and the main thing is for him to be injury-free. He has had injuries here and there for the past couple of years that have hampered him when he was in the best shape and ready to go. Hopefully, he can be injury-free this year and he can really really do the things he is capable of doing.”

If you are not already impressed with this dynamic duo, Smith II shared one more impressive accomplishment. They have both set world records on the track. Smith did it in the 100-meter race in Colorado Springs in 1983. He also did it in the 4×100-meter relay in 1983 and 1984. Smith II set a world record in the 4×400-meter relay on an indoor track in Poland in 2014.

If you are aware of a unique athlete with a special story, 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley would like to tell it. You can reach her at gshirley@wfla.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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