Archive for February 22, 2010

Day 47: Today’s Olympian: Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens (1913-1980) – runner

Day53_JesseOwensJesse Owens tied the world record in the 100-yard dash during a track meet in high school. In college, as an African-American, he travelled with his team but was required eat in black-only restaurants and sleep in black-only hotels. Despite winning a record of eight individual NCAA championships in 2 years that still stands, he was never awarded a scholarship and had to work part-time to pay for school. During the Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens set three world records and tied a fourth, a feat named by NBC announcer Bob Costas as the best athletic achievement since 1850. In 1936 Owens competed for the US in the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Adolf Hitler had used the games to  show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. By allowing Day52_olympic_ringsonly members of the Aryan race to compete for Germany, Hitler hoped to demonstrate racial superiority. During those games, Owens won four gold medals, a performance unequalled for almost 50 years until Carl Lewis won medals in the same events in 1984.

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