Symbols began to present themselves to him. He asked Denise to buy a pair of black gloves. A few days before his race, Smith knew what he would do. He did not tell Carlos. Until the race was over, Carlos was a competitor.
The first Olympic sprint final was the 100 meters. Hines, with a world-record 9.95, won it going away from Jamaica's Lennox Miller and Greene. "It was my greatest race," Hines says now. "The greatest thing that will ever happen to me."
Brundage personally awarded the 100-meter medals. Hines and Greene stood at respectful attention during the anthem. "I thirsted for glory," says Greene, "and I wanted the U.S.A. to be better than every other country. I loved that."
Yet Hines had avoided shaking hands with Brundage. These were the last medals the IOC president would present at the track.
After the semifinals of the 200 two days later, it appeared that Smith would not stand on any victory platform. Carlos won the first semi in 20.11, unbothered by running in the tight inside lane. Smith took the second semi in 20.13, but as he slowed, he felt a jab high in his left thigh. "It was like a dart in my leg. I went down, not knowing where the next bullet was coming from."
As he crouched on the track, he knew he had strained or torn an adductor muscle. All the work, he thought, was now useless. He raised his head and saw before him a familiar pair of hunting boots. They belonged to his San Jose State coach, Winter, who got him up, walked him to ice, packed his groin and then wrapped it.
The final was two hours later. "Thirty minutes before it, I went to the practice field," Smith says. "I jogged a straightaway, then did one at 30 percent. It was holding. I did one at 60 percent, then one at 90. It held. Lord, don't let there be any delays, I thought."
As the eight finalists were led into the stadium, Carlos remembers saying to Smith, "I'm going to do something on the stand to let those in power know they're wrong. I want you with me."
Smith, Carlos recalls, said, "I'm with you."
"That made me feel good," says Carlos. "And it made the medal mean nothing. Why should I have to prove my ability when they'd just take it away somehow? I made up my mind. Tommie Smith gets a gift."