Janell Smith Death | Obituary – July 25th, American Athlete Janell Smith age 73 passed away, She represented the United States in the women’s 400 meters event at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games.
For several years, Janell Smith was one of the best, and best-known, female athletes in the world, including being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But after she finished her career, she opted instead for the quiet life of a first-grade school teacher, wife, and mother to her three sons. She rarely spoke about her glory years, and when she did, she often left out the details that showed just how incredible she was during that time.
At the height of the Cold War in 1962, she was competing behind the Iron Curtain at the age of 15.
At the age of 17 she joined fellow Kansan Jim Ryun, also a high school junior, on the U.S. Tokyo Olympic Track and Field team.
She broke the indoor 400 World Record by 1.6 seconds the winter of her senior year of high school at a meet in Berlin, Germany, running 54.0.
One week after she turned 18, she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated
At the age of 18 in 1965, she ran a 52.3 400 on cinder at a meet in Ecuador.
She was a two-time AAU national champion at 440y/400m.
She set multiple American Records in multiple events.
She helped design and select the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team uniforms.
And she did it all without a high school or college team in the pre-Title IX era.
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of state titles. The greatest 400m runner Kansas ever produced never ran in a state meet because there was no state meet for girls. The first girls state meet wasn’t held until 1972, seven years after she graduated from high school.
She won two NAIA national indoor titles in college despite Emporia State University not having a women’s team.
We express our sympathy and deepest condolences to Janell Smith’s family today and in the days, weeks, months, and years that are to come as they cope with her passing. May her soul rest in peace.
July 25th, American Athlete Janell Smith passed away at the age of 73. She represented United States in the women’s 400 metres event at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games.https://t.co/1Yh7cF148L pic.twitter.com/KwcUHNcGho
— Lost Olympians (@LostOlympians) July 26, 2020