Mile News

U.S. Flag Borne by True Olympian

July 26, 1992

Patriotism? Discipline? Perspective? Chalk `em all up to Francie Larrieu Smith. Who better to represent what the Olympics should be about?

By Dave Hyde, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel via Chicago Tribune

This is a story about the flag, the Olympic spirit and one proper decision that connected the two, perhaps one final time, because everything seems intent on stretching the gap these days.

It is a story about sacrifice and perseverance. It is a story with a hero but no villain.

It is a long story, 20 years long, going back to when Francie Larrieu Smith first stepped onto an Olympic track as a teenager. She remembers feeling chills ''run up and down my body like they were running the 100 yard dash.''

Saturday night, during a spectacular Opening Ceremonies in Barcelona, Larrieu Smith, now 39, stepped onto her four Olympic track in fitting style, too.

She came out in front of the U.S. team, carrying the U.S. flag and flashing a perma-press smile after benefitting from a decision that makes too much sense to have happened.

The U.S. delegation could have done the nouveau riche thing. They could have voted Magic Johnson to carry the flag. This theory was popular in many parts, especially in the foreign press, for some reason.

Everything about the Dream Team is hotter than melted butter right now. But what is Magic to the Olympics, or the Olympics to Magic? A phenomenon, yes. A marketing tool, certainly.

Truth is, Johnson and his teammates command so much attention that they will steal some of the spotlight from athletes whose biggest recognition comes once every Olympic torch, athletes such as Francie Larrieu Smith.

Maybe you don`t know her. She never has won a medal. She never has made a marquee name for herself in track, like Mary Decker Slaney or Evelyn Ashford or Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

But there is no precedent to what she has done. Twenty years, five Olympic teams and three events, the distances getting longer with age.

Continue reading at:

Tags: legend (91) , francie larrieu smith (7) , barcelona 1992 (3)

Facebook Comments

Return the Mile to prominence on the American & worldwide sports and cultural landscape by elevating and celebrating the Mile to create a movement.

Bring Back the Mile as the premier event in the sport, and increase interest in and media coverage of the Mile for both those who love the distance as well as the general public.

Bring Back the Mile to celebrate the storied distance and to recognize the people who made and make the Mile great and to promote Mile events and the next generation of U.S. Milers.

Bring Back the Mile to create a national movement for the Mile as America’s Distance,
to inspire Americans to run the Mile as part of their fitness program and to replace the 1600 meters at High School State Track & Field Meets across the country.

Become a Mile Maniac member or a BBTM sponsor today! Join us, and go Mile!

Join Us

Thanks for joining the movement and being a Mile Maniac. We'll keep you up to-date with our Mile wires as well as exclusive contests and opportunities. Help us spread the word by sharing our site and joining us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!