To say the future is bright for Miles Smith is a bit of an understatement. And to say Smith is confident of that future, is also an understatement.
The Southeast Missouri St. junior-to-be has been named to the U.S. 4×400 relay team that will compete in the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland in August. Smith finished sixth in the 400-meters at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships last weekend. While that may not seem overly impressive at first glance, you have to consider the competition. Smith was the only amateur in the finals and will be the only amateur on the relay team.
The World Championships are recognized as the most prestigious track competition, behind only the Olympics. Miles isn’t surprised by his success, but he is a little taken aback by the rapid nature of it all.
“I believe in myself,” Smith said. “It’s happening (so) early, so that’s a little overwhelming.”
SEMO track and field coach Joey Haines thought almost immediately that Smith was destined for greatness. After a recruiting trip, Haines told his assistant that he thought Smith would be “something special.” But this?
“I would be exaggerating if I told you that I knew he was going to go to the World Championships as a sophomore,” Haines said.
As a senior at Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis, he was on the 4×200-meter relay team that finished second in Class 4 in 2003 and helped Riverview Gardens finish third in the 4×200 meter. But his individual performance fell short of expectations. Smith failed to win the state title in the 400-meters. He didn’t finish second either. In fact you wouldn’t find his name in the top three. Smith finished fourth. But that didn’t keep him from telling anyone who would listen that he would become one of the best runners in the nation.
“A lot of people probably thought he was a little cocky because he really hadn’t accompliced the things in high school that met the goals that he had,” Harris said. “A lot of the older guys on the team kind of looked at him and kind of laughed for a while.”
But the laughter soon stopped. As a freshman, Smith started his career by taking second place in the 400-meters in the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Track Championships. He then took the outdoor conference title in the 400-meters. As a sophomore, Smith finished first in both the indoor and outdoor championships and was named the OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Last month Smith qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and earned All-American status by finishing fifth.
Given what he’s accomplished so far in his young career, it’s hard to not look ahead to the 2008 Olympics in China.
“They’ll probably need me in Beijing for 2008,” Smith said confidently.
And Haines thinks the timing of the next Olympiad couldn’t be more perfect Smith, who is expected to graduate in 2007 with a degree in Communication.
“He’ll be right in his prime. Sometimes a guy hits his prime the year after the Olympics or two years before, but Miles should hit his peak right at the Olympics”
And Smith says the dream of going to the Olympics won’t only have an affect on his athletic career.
“It’s going to just inspire me to do better in school, staying eligible, things like that, getting good grades, so I can fulfill all this.”