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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Patriot runs in father's footsteps
Freedom's Calvin Smith is practically a mirror image of his dad, a former world champion sprinter.
By SCOTT PURKS
Published May 5, 2006
TAMPA - The son is a lot like the father.
Calvin Smith and Calvin Jr. are both - and there never has been a more appropriate time to say it - extremely fast.
Smith held the world record in the 100 meters for almost four years (1983-87) at 9.93 seconds. He followed that by helping the American 4x100-meter relay team set the world record at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 (37.86 seconds). Four years later, he won bronze in the 100 at the Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
Smith Jr., a senior at Freedom, has run a personal-best 21.17-second 200 meters and a 47.77-second 400, times that would win a state title in almost any year.
Smith said he couldn't be happier that the focus is squarely on his son as he attempts to win Class 3A crowns in the 200 and 400 today and helps lead Freedom's 4x400-meter relay team to another medal.
That said, father and son couldn't be more cool.
"I think if he keeps his head and stays focus then he could win both races," said dad, who coaches his son. "If he is next to the others with 100 meters remaining (in the 400), he will win the race. I think physically he will be able to run that last 100 hard and get it done."
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if you talk to Smith Jr., he likely will run against two of the nation's top 400-meter runners in tonight's final: Hallandale's Tabarie Henry (47.37 seconds in 400) and Tallahassee Leon's Justin Terry (47.41).
Smith Jr. said he sees the race as fortunate because, "I haven't been pushed in the 400 this year. This year all I've done is get ahead and run away from everybody. I look forward to being pushed and then I'd like to see what happens."
In the 200, it's a bit of a different story as Smith Jr. comes in with the state's fastest 200 time.
As usual, the son will listen to his father right up to the starting gun.
"I appreciate anything (dad) says to me about training and running," Smith Jr. said. "He was in the Olympics, he held the world record, it's easy to respect him."
It also helps that dad is unassuming, soft-spoken, eager to help and smart. Adoringly he sees similarities between him and his son: "He jumps up and down and shakes his arms out just like I did before the start, and that's something I never said anything to him about. He just did that, naturally.
"Another similarity is that he doesn't get the fastest start out of the blocks but then comes on with a strong finish like I had.
"Mentally? I'd say we're similar as well. We stay pretty calm and focused."
Mostly physical. Smith never was overly muscular. He was a lean and smoother runner than most of his competitors.
Smith Jr. is, by his father's admission, "More muscled. He's much bigger than I was at that age."
Smith Jr. also is a bit taller (5-foot-11) and heavier (175 pounds) and might have a little better natural form.