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"Five thousand people were at the meet, half of them hanging out of the trees," says Smith. "I suggested to Lee that we just cruise, give them a 46.5, give them some high-knee work. But Lee looked at me like, O.K., you do it, fool. So I thought, Uh-oh, I got to be careful here.
"The time came. We had an AAU starter in a red coat, official as hell. Had timers at both 400 meters and 440 yards. I was in Lane 3. Lee was outside of me in 4. In the blocks I hoped what I'd said had taken effect.
"At the gun I took two or three steps and rose up to be stylish, and here dirt was hitting me in the face from Lee digging out so hard. I went after him, but he was out there."
Evans led past the 220 in 21.5. Smith was four yards back in 21.9. Each was racing against type. Tradition said that Smith, with the superior top speed, should be the one building an early lead. And Evans, with the superior stamina, should be running a more even pace, to avoid burning out.
Tradition was right. "He'd gone too hard," says Smith. "I caught him off the last turn." Smith drove on with suppressed fury to the finish. "I was so tired and so upset at him. When we were done I felt like slapping him, but I couldn't raise my arm."
Evans felt worse. Both walked away changed. Evans would never again misjudge pace. Smith would never again expect to find a friend in a competitor.
Smith had passed the 400 meters in 44.5 and finished the 440 in 44.8. Both were world records. "World records came about every two weeks in 1967," says Smith now. Before he graduated, counting relays, he tied or broke 11 records.
"By the time I was a senior," says Smith, "my grades were up to 2.5, 2.6, and I had a growing sense of really understanding what I was being taught."
Smith, hardly a campus radical, was in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps. "I always made it a point to follow rules," he says. "Write me a rule and I follow it. But I was a genuine college student. And these were the 1960s."
Smith had come to manhood in the most compelling decade of the civil rights struggle. When Rosa Parks declined to give her seat to a white man and go stand in the back of a bus and was arrested, so beginning the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott of 1955-56, Smith was 11.