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Jesse Owens: Athletics

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980), also known as “The Buckeye Bullet” was an American track-and-field athlete that won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. He was recognized for his sprints and long jumps and he is known to be the “greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history”. Owen’s abilities to run fast were noticed by his track coach in junior high and that’s when he realized his passion for running. He continued to work as he attended high school and in college, when he attended the Ohio State University as he wasn’t offered any scholarship due to racial discrimination. He continued to participate in NCAA championships winning titles and medals.

Greatest Sporting Achievements

Jesse Owen’s greatest achievement happened on May 25, 1935 during the Big Ten meet at  Ferry Field in Michigan where he set three world records and tied a fourth, all in a span of about 45 minutes. He set the bar high with his 100 yard dash in 9.4 seconds, long jump with 26 ft 8 ¼ in – a world record that lasted for 25 years, 220-yard sprint in 20.3 sec and 220-yard low hurdles in 22.6 sec.

During the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany, he shocked everyone for being the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad.

jesse owens at the Olympics in 1936 Jesse Owens 1936 (credit: public domain)

1936 Berlin Olympics - 4 gold

Why Was He So Good?

Throughout the time of deep-rooted isolation, Jesse Owens not only dishonored Adolf Hitler’s racing presumption but also acknowledged that it is a person’s excellence, rather than his race or nationality differentiates one person from another. Although he was a son of a sharecropper and a grandson of a slave, he accomplished what no Olympian before him had achieved.

What You May Not Know

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Profiles Extra

There are profiles of past athlete champions from a large range of sports. See also profiles of Olympic athletes and pages about sporting heroes.

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