ESPN put it well when they said, “the Jesse Owens story has been told many times, but in our fleeting, fickle and 140-character era, his tale still deserves to be trending.” Few familiar with the Owens legend would argue. More than any other figure in sports history, Jesse Owens transcends it. His reputation precedes him, and not just for the amazing feats he accomplished at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which might be the most memorable of Owens’ accomplishments.
Owens, who appeared superhuman, made sure that the 1936 Berlin Olympics would be one for the history books. He won gold in the 100-metre run (10.3 seconds, an Olympic record), the 200-metre run (20.7 seconds, a world record), the long jump (26.4 feet) and the 4 × 100-metre relay (39.8 seconds).
Victory was especially sweet because the Berlin Olympics occurred two years before World War II broke out, with racial undertones glooming over the event.
The game-changing Owens was always naturally brilliant – adept at shattering records. As a student in a Cleveland, Ohio, high school, Owens won three events at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championships in Chicago. In one day, May 25, 1935, representing Ohio State University in a Western (later Big Ten) Conference track-and-field meet at the University of Michigan, Owens equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash (9.4 seconds) and broke the world records for the 220-yard dash (20.3 seconds), the 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 sec), and the long jump (26.67 feet).
Not bad going for the son of a steel mill worker. In 1976, Owens was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford.
In 1980, a new asteroid discovered by Antonin Mrkos at Klet Observatory was named 6758 Jesseowens. The accolades run on.