In the Coliseum last Friday night, Smith started the 200-meter in Lane 3, while Hines was staggered ahead in Lane 4. "This helps me," said Smith, "because I can see him all the time and know what I have to do. At San Diego he was staggered behind me, and I never really knew how far ahead he was until we came into the straightaway. But when he's ahead of me in the blocks I can keep in touch." Hines broke strongly at the gun, but Smith never trailed by more than three yards. When they reached the straight Tommie burned down home and won by two yards.
If Tommie Smith beat Jim Hines to settle a grudge, his Santa Clara Youth Village sprint relay team beat USC's 440-yard relay champions to reestablish pride. After all, USC, with Fred Kuller, Lennox Miller and football stars O.J. Simpson and Earl McCullouch, had practiced together for two seasons, perfecting the baton passes that are so important in such short relays.
The Youth Village organized its 440 team only this year. Art Simburg, who had become Tommie Smith's greatest fan when both were students at San Jose State (the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara are next to each other), recruited most of the members of the Youth Village team. He convinced Billy Gaines, a slightly overaged high school student, to leave New Jersey, move to San Jose and compete for the Youth Village. He persuaded John Carlos, a New Yorker who complained of a racial situation at East Texas State, to move on west. Martin McGrady transferred to San Jose from Central State in Ohio, and Kirk Clayton came from Grambling College in Louisiana. Simburg also recruited Jerry Williams, who had been a great runner at Berkeley (Calif.) High School and then dropped out of sight. "I smoked and drank a lot," Williams said, "and I was really living fast. I went through one marriage and into a second. I was lost."
Simburg had been the sports editor of the school paper at Berkeley High, and all he wrote about was Jerry Williams. He remembered him, tracked him down in a pool hall and couriered him to San Jose. Now Williams is finishing his lower-grade scholastic requirements and running for the Youth Village. With Tommie Smith, who had completed his collegiate eligibility at San Jose State, also available, the Youth Village soon became known as Speed City. "No one can ever beat them on speed alone," said Vern Wolfe, the USC coach, before Friday's meet. "But they haven't worked on the mechanics of the relay—the baton pass particularly. And they talk a lot, really a lot, about beating us. We've never run against them before. It should be a good race."
For the race, Speed City decided on a quartet with Billy Gaines running the lead, Clayton following, then Jerry Williams and finally Tommie Smith as the anchor. USC went with McCullouch, then Kuller, O.J. and Lennox Miller. The Trojans led by a stride near the end of the second leg. Then it happened. While Clayton neatly passed the baton to Jerry Williams, Kuller and O.J. Simpson had trouble. "Fred ran up and yelled 'stick,' and then he hit me on the shoulder with it," said O.J. "He got me the second time, but it was too late. We lost the race right there." For the final leg Smith started with a step lead over Lennox Miller and easily maintained it.
"We run them the first time and lose," said O.J. afterward. "The worse thing is, we'll never run 'em again. Earl graduates and who knows what will happen. I hate to start and end this as a loser."
USC lost, but Tommie Smith won—the movie camera for the 200, the Polaroid camera for the relay, the trophy for being the meet's outstanding athlete and a restored pride. "I didn't want people to think my speed was dwindling," he said. "It never dwindles."