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Tommie Smith Youth Track Meet Set for July 17

Friday July 9, 2010

Louisville’s fifth annual Tommie Smith Youth Track and Field Meet will be held Saturday July 17 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Central High School Stadium located at Muhammad Ali Blvd. and 15th St. The Tommie Smith Track and Field Meet is an Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) sanctioned event.

The event is open to children ages 4 to 18. Register by July 14 at www.louisville.gov/Health. More than 400 children ages four to eighteen are expected to participate. Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith will be on hand.

This marks the first year that a community-based organization, The 100 Black Men of Louisville Inc., is hosting the event sponsored by the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness in conjunction with the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement. Aetna is also supporting the event.

The Tommie Smith Youth Track and Field meet is part of the larger Tommie Smith Youth Initiative in Louisville. The Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, The 100 Black Men of Louisville Inc., the YMCA and Metro Parks are working in partnership to decrease the factors for childhood obesity and lack of physical activity among elementary and high school-age children. The initiative includes instruction on nutrition and physical fitness.

Children in YMCA and Metro Parks camps have been receiving instruction all summer and are invited to participate in the Tommie Smith Track and Field Meet on July 17. In addition, children in the YMCA and Metro Parks summer camps will have their own track and field meets on July 15, 22 and 23. The 100 Black Men of Louisville Inc. has been working with local and regional track clubs to attract them to the Tommie Smith Youth Track Meet on July 17.

Tommie Smith is the only man in the history of track and field to hold 11 world records simultaneously. He won the gold medal in the 200 meters at the 1968 Olympic Games. Smith gained worldwide prominence when he and teammate, bronze-medal winner John Carlos, raised gloved fists during the medal ceremony to protest racial discrimination in America. The photo of this nonviolent demonstration became one of the iconic images of the 1960s and 70s.

After a successful career in the National Football League and as a college instructor and track coach, Tommie Smith went on to organize track initiatives for disadvantaged youth in Oakland Calif. The clubs have had remarkable success, not only in raising physical fitness levels among participants, but also in raising academic performance. The Department of Public Health and Wellness began replicating this initiative in Louisville in 2005. Since then the initiatives have also been replicated in New Orleans LA and Washington D.C.

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