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Beach volleyball legend, who helped popularize the sport and dominated it for a decade.

Sinjin (full name: Christopher St. John Smith, "Sinjin" is taken from the English pronounciation of St. John (thanks heyoka for clarification on that); DOB: May 7, 1957 in California) first came to prominence as a member of UCLA's 1976 and 1979 NCAA championship teams. Smith was the MVP of the 1979 championships.

From 1979-1982, Smith was a member of the U.S. national team (indoor volleyball), and played beach volleyball with partner Karch Kiraly as well. However, Kiraly went on to focus on the national team, while Smith partnered with Randy Stoklos for the first time in 1982. Smith/Stoklos would go on to win a record 113 tournaments, while being partners from 1982-1993.

Smith won 139 tournaments total (2nd all-time, behind Kiraly) and with Stoklos earned the unofficial title as "Kings of the Beach". The two lent their names and images to a 1989 NES game of that title. His popularity led him to appear in the 1990 movie Side Out and also was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People (also in 1990).

In later years, Smith's career win total, and perhaps popularity, have been surpassed by one-time partner Kiraly. While Kiraly won 3 Olympic gold medals (2 as a member of the U.S. indoor team; one for beach volleyball), Smith didn't win any. The two were heated rivals on the court, with the younger Kiraly usually having the advantage.

Even at the age of 44, Smith is still competing on the volleyball tournament circuit (as of 2001). He's lost a step (well, more than that) and isn't a top player anymore, but he's still a great ambassador to the sport.

Source used: beach volleyball database (www.bvbinfo.com)

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