Ronnie Smith
Personal information
Birth nameRonald Ray Smith
Born(1949-03-28)March 28, 1949
Los Angeles, California, United States
DiedMarch 31, 2013(2013-03-31) (aged 64)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight73 kg (161 lb)
Event(s)100 m, 200 m
ClubSouthern California Striders, Anaheim
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)100 yd – 9.3 (1969)
100 m – 10.14 (9.9h) (1968)
200 m – 20.4 (1968)
Medal record
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1968 Mexico City 4×100 m relay

Ronald Ray Smith (March 28, 1949 – March 31, 2013) was an American athlete, winner of the gold medal in the 4 × 100 m relay at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He attended San Jose State College during the "Speed City" era, coached by Lloyd (Bud) Winter and graduating in sociology.[1]

At the 1968 AAU Championships, Ronnie Ray Smith equaled the 100 m world record in the semifinal, repeating the same time of 9.9 which was run by Jim Hines in the same race and Charles Greene in the other semifinal of the same competition.[2] That evening of June 20, 1968, at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, California has been dubbed by track and field historians as the "Night of Speed."[3][4] Since Smith was still 19 years old at the time, that mark also became the World Junior Record, which lasted for exactly 8 years.

At the Mexico Olympics, Smith ran the third leg in the American 4 × 100 m relay team that won the gold medal and set a new world record of 38.24 seconds.[1]

Before arriving at San Jose State, Smith ran at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, finishing third in the 220 yard dash at the CIF California State Meet in 1966.[5]

After retiring from competitions Smith worked at the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department. He was inducted into the San Jose State Sports Hall of Fame.[1]

Smith died in a hospice facility in Los Angeles, California, on March 31, 2013. He was 64.[6] His funeral was featured on the TLC reality TV show Best Funeral Ever. In honor and memory of his 1968 gold medal performance, his casket "ran" a 100yd race and received a gold medal in a mock Olympic-style funeral.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Ronnie Ray Smith.
  2. ^ IAAF Record Progression. IAAF. p. 547
  3. ^ "Olympics athletics memorabilia Sports Memorabilia Affordable Gift or Investment". Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "Track & Field News • View topic – 100 m of 1968 AAU championship". Archived from the original on September 22, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  5. ^ California State Meet Results – 1915 to present. Retrieved on July 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "Olympic gold medalist Ronnie Ray Smith dies". Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  7. ^ Videos. TLC (May 9, 2014). Retrieved on 2015-07-12.
Records Preceded byUnknown 100 metres world junior record holder June 20, 1968 – June 20, 1976 Succeeded byHarvey Glance