(September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980)
Jesse Owens, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, achieved what no Olympian before him had accomplished. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin has made him the best remembered athlete in Olympic history.
Accomplishments & Awards
- After a stellar high school career, he attended Ohio State University.
- On May 25, 1935, at the Big Ten Conference Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens broke three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles) and tied a fourth (100-yard dash), all in a 45 minute span.
- In his junior year at Ohio State, Owens competed in 42 events and won them all, including four in the Big Ten Championships, four in the NCAA Championships, two in the AAU Championships and three at the Olympic Trials.
- In 1936, Jesse became the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad by winning four gold medals: 100 meter dash in 10.3 seconds (tying the world record), long jump with a jump of 26′ 5 1/4″ (Olympic record), 200 meter dash in 20.7 seconds (Olympic record), and 400 meter relay (first leg) in 39.8 seconds (Olympic and world record).
- In 1976, Jesse was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award bestowed upon a civilian, by Gerald R. Ford.
- Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
Jesse Owens’ quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.
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