Jesse Owens

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James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist.

Owens was most accomplished in sprinting and long jump events; he was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history".[1] He set three world records and tied another in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan; this has been called "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport"[2] and has never been equaled. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens won four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4 × 100 meter relay. He was the most successful athlete at the games and as was credited with "single-handedly crush[ing] Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy."[3] Owens, a staunch Republican, was snubbed by Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt upon his return when Roosevelt invited only white athletes to the White House for a congratulatory celebration.[4]

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford awarded Owens the highest honor an American civilian can receive, the Medal of Freedom. [1]

"Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry. His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the prelude to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes, as an unofficial ambassador overseas, and a spokesman for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans". President James Carter. [2]

External links

Further reading

  • Jeremy Schaap, Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics, (2007) 272 pp.


  1. Litsky, Frank (1980). Jesse Owens Dies Of Cancer at 66. Retrieved on March 23, 2014.
  2. Rothschild, Richard (May 24, 2010). Greatest 45 minutes ever in sports. Retrieved on March 23, 2014.
  3. Schwartz, Larry (2000). Owens Pierced A Myth. ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Archived from the original on July 6, 2000.