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Olympic sprinter Janell Smith dies at 73

Former Olympic sprinter Janell Smith has passed away at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.
Former Olympic sprinter Janell Smith has passed away at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.(Kansas Sports Hall of Fame)
Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 4:22 PM CDT
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EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - Former Olympic sprinter Janell Smith has passed away at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.

Smith was born on May 3, 1947 in Killeen, Texas. She moved to Fredonia High School in Kansas. While with Fredonia HS, Smith represented the United States in the 400-meter dash at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. She was only 17-years-old. She was a two-time National AAU 440 yard and 400 meter champion in 1964 and 1965.

In 1965, Smith was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school senior. She also set the World Record for the indoor 400 meters.

Her 52.3 second 400 meter time still ranks as the best-ever by a high school age girl in Kansas.

Smith graduated from Emporia State in 1969 and spent 35 years as a grade school teacher.

She was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Smith is survived by her husband, Mike, three sons Brian, Scott and Tim, and several grandchildren.

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