For a quarter of a century he served as executive director of the Ontario Track and Field Association (OTFA), now Athletics Ontario. A long time Brampton resident Smith died on Dec. 2 at Hawthorn Woods Care Community in Brampton. He had been dealing with Parkinson’s Disease.
“There was no one more respected in track and field than he was,” said Gary Lubin a long time local high jump coach. He said not only was he respected within Ontario, but around the world. When Lubin travelled with his jumper Mark Boswell to Australia people there would ask them about Smith.
Born in Wales in 1936, Smith came to Canada in the 1970s, where he was a volunteer high jump coach with the Toronto Striders. Among the athletes he coached was Brampton’s Julie White who competed at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
“He had a passion for helping people,” said Lubin who said he was a mentor for athletes and young coaches.
John Craig, who succeeded Smith as the OTFA executive director describes Smith as, “A decent human being who served the community well.”
He said Smith brought a number of ideas from the United Kingdom, where track and field had a higher profile, trying to improve its profile here in different ways. Such as staging an 800-metre race at Exhibition Stadium during half time of a Toronto Argonauts game.
“He was an innovator and challenged everyone,” said Craig.
Smith became chairman of the Ontario Coaches Association and then executive director of the OTFA, a position he held from 1977 to April 2001 when he retired at age 65. He continued to work part-time for both Athletics Ontario and Athletics Canada. He founded and was the publisher of Canada’s National Track and Field magazine “Athletics” in 1976 and wrote a regular column. He also compiled records and statistics about the sport.
Lubin said that at the time (before the Internet) it was the essential source of information for track athletes and coaches.
Smith was also founder and chairperson of the Pan American Track and Field Commission and Pan American Junior Championships, a bi-annual event that he brought to Sudbury in 1980, paving the way for Sudbury to host the world juniors in 1988. In addition, he was the vice president and meet director of that event.
He helped revive the Hamilton Spectator Indoor Games and was meet director. He also developed the Ontario Track League. He was inducted into Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame in 2010.
He is survived by wife Beth, children Clare and Jarod and granddaughter Chelsea. A Celebration of Life will be held later in Wales.