Jesse Owens – The Olympic Athlete
Let’s talk about Jesse Owens – THE Olympic Athlete! We are talking about Jesse Owens, the man who defied all odds in 1936 Berlin Olympics and moreover it is the story of Jesse Owens who defied Adolf Hitler! He was the most successful athlete in 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning 4 gold medals.
Born James Cleveland Owens in 1913, in Oakville, the boy presented himself “JC”, but one teacher did not understand the Southern accent and called him “Jesse”. From that moment the little African American boy called himself Jesse, a name that would become a legend.
Jesse Owens proved his immense talent in high school, when he set or tied national high school records in 100 yards dash, 200 yards race and long jump. Jesse equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds in 100 yards dash (91 meters). He also managed to reach 7.56 meters in long jump event.
Owens enrolled on Ohio State University, where he worked part-time jobs to pay his tuition. Even though Jesse Owens had to suffer many humiliations being African American, this did not stop him to come to national attention with his athletic achievements. Owens was the first athlete to win four gold medals at the NCAA. Jesse Owens made history in 1935, when in a time span of 45 minutes, he broke 3 world records and tied another one. Owens set world records in the long jump (in his only long-jump try he tied 8.13 m or 26 ft 8 1⁄4, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard (201.2 m) dash (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard (201.2m) low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds), and tied the world record in 100 yards sprint (9.4 seconds). Some specialists credit “Buckeye Bullet” with setting five world records (instead of those 3 mentioned above), stating that Jesse managed to beat the records for the shorter 200 meters and 200-meter low hurdles.
Jesse Owens became an Olympic legend in 1936 Berlin Olympics, when he defied Adolf Hitler’s theory of Aryan superiority and that Africans are inferior. Not only that Jesse Owens defied all Adolf Hitler’s hopes, but the African American was hauled as a hero by hundreds of Germans. Hitler viewed African-Americans as inferior and chastised the United States for stooping to use these “non-humans” and relying on “black auxiliaries”.
“Buckeye Bullet” managed to win 4 gold medals in 1936 Berlin Olympics. Jesse was wearing track shoes manufactured by Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik, a German company that would eventually split into Adidas and Puma.
In the second day of 1936 Olympics (3rd of August 1936), Jesse Owens won 100 m sprint race and tied the world record (10.3 seconds), edging out Ralph Metcalfe, also an African-American.
Next day, Owens was nearly disqualified in the long jump event because he fouled on his first two jumps, even though he claimed that one was just practice run down. He was approached by a tall blue eyed German called Luz Long, who advised Owens to make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there to play it safe. Owens took the advice and qualified for the final. In the afternoon, Jesse Owens managed to beat Luz Long, winning the gold medal with a final leap of 26 ft-5½ (setting another Olympic record).
Buckeye Bullet” won the 200 m race with a new world record (20.7 seconds) on August 5, 1936.
It should have been the end of Olympics for Jesse Owens, but it fate said that he deserves another gold medal. In a very controversial situation, American team decided not to include any American Jew in team for the the 4 x 100 m relay final. Owens ran the first leg, and the American 4 x 100 m relay team won the gold medal and set a new world record (39.8 seconds), that would last 20 years.
Many said that Adolf Hitler snubbed Jesse Owens, but it is not true. Adolf Hitler shunned Cornelius Johnson, another African American athlete, in the first day of the Olympics. Hitler was advised not to congratulate any athlete, no matter whether he was German or not. In reality, Jesse was very disappointed by the fact that the US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not acknowledge his achievements.
This was the story of Jesse Owens – THE Olympic Athlete! A remarkable athlete that become a hero, with great achievements that stood unequaled until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Carl Lewis matched Jesse’s feat. Even though others won more Olympic medals, Jesse will be remembered as a great athlete, a symbol of a dreamer, a fighter, being the first one to accomplish what no Olympian before or since had managed before. We have to remember that he set a lot of world and Olympic records on courses composed of cinder, which became uneven and messy when it rained and his shoes were made of heavy leather. So, Jesse Owens performances are remarkable taking into consideration all those fact!