Track Legend Tommie Smith

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Even if you’re not a track enthusiast, you know Tommie Smith. The famed track legend-coach-activist stopped by the PUMA YARD on Wednesday. Nearly 4 decades have passed since the 1968 Mexico City track and field events where he broke open the 200m and sparked a fresh, global conversation on human rights.

Back in 1968, the PUMA Suede made its debut. Smith cites its comfort, stability, and personality as reasons for his instantaneous infatuation with it. He carried said shoes with him to the podium, barefoot in his black socks, stepped up, set the shoes down, put his fist in the air, bowed his head—and yes, the rest is history. He’ll tell you nerves weren’t involved. That he wasn’t distracted and didn’t waver but there was that slight wind that moved over his raised fist and caused him to glance sidelong to his right.

What happened prior to that victory stand moment was no less significant to the track world. Tommie Smith captured gold and was the first ever to crack 20 seconds in the 200m dash. He thinks a certain individual – often deemed the “World’s Fastest Man” – has a chance at an under-19-seconds-victory. And if he’s not the one to make it happen?

“We’ll have to wait a long to see it,” said Smith.


Digging Jamaica? Visit the 100m Shop and get your jerk-reggae-patois-sunshine fix. (Sunscreen recommended.)