Words of wisdom give Smith a boost
Tyrone Smith will have the words of Carl Lewis ringing in his ears when he competes in the long jump qualifying at the Olympic Stadium tomorrow.
With his regular coach Kyle Tellez unable to travel to Rio because of illness, Lewis — one of the greatest athletes of all-time — has stepped in to oversee Smith's Olympic campaign.
Smith said Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals during his glittering career, was a coach par excellence as well as being a superb motivator by virtue of his own success.
“The past couple of seasons Carl has stepped in at various competitions with me and really provided some insightful information,” said Smith, who revealed Lewis's exploits inspired him as a youngster to take up the sport.
“He jumped at such a high level for such a long time and it's great to have him on the sidelines and seeing what we can do together.”
Smith and Lewis have known each other since 2007 when the Bermudian moved to Houston to train under the venerable Tom Tellez before working with his son Kyle.
It was the allure of working with Lewis that inspired Smith to move from his native Chicago to the “Space City”, where the legendary United States athlete runs a track and field club at the University of Houston.
The one-time fastest man in the world still holds the world indoor record with a leap of 8.79 metres and is the only athlete to win the long jump Olympic gold four consecutive times.
“My whole career is connected to Carl,” Smith said. “His former coach Tom Tellez got me to the Beijing Olympics [in 2008] and Carl is the reason I was able to stay in Houston and do this whole dream.
“He had a tryout, analysed my performance and allowed me to be in his track and field club. It kind of feels like I'm going full circle with him.”
Smith admits the famed intensity of Lewis, now 55, has not diminished with age and said his passion for long jump was infectious.
“Working with Carl is amazing,” Smith said. “He's very passionate about track and field, and sometimes he's a pain in the butt because he's so passionate.
“There have been times when he's said, ‘I've no doubt you can jump 28 feet'. To have someone say that who has done it more times than anyone else in history is a huge boost.
“When you hear that, it becomes something you believe you can turn into reality.
“You keep believing and keep believing, and hopefully one day it happens. Hopefully that day is in Rio.” • The qualifying round for the long jump begins at 9.20pm Bermuda time tomorrow, with the final scheduled for Saturday at 8.53pm.