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5 Amazing Olympic Athletes


5
Jesse Owens
Whoa. We're beginning to understand how Owens managed to leap 26 feet! This is from the 1936 long jump finals. At this point, Hitler was getting pretty peeved.
Whoa. We're beginning to understand how Owens managed to leap 26 feet! This is from the 1936 long jump finals. At this point, Hitler was getting pretty peeved.
Photo courtesy © IOC/ Fox Photos/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

Organizers of the controversial 1936 Summer Games in Berlin had an agenda: to demonstrate white supremacy and to spread the notion that other races were inferior. Jesse Owens, a black man competing for the United States, blew that plan straight out of the water.

A born athlete, Owens had been setting impressive records since junior high. But he is probably best known for his mind-blowing athletic achievements in 1935 at the Big Ten Championships and his stunning performance at the 1936 Olympic Games.

In 1935, Owens slammed through three world records and tied for a fourth. Guess how long it took him? Oh, all of 45 minutes. And that's just one impressive stat from his college athletic career. But he did one better -- and on the world stage -- in the 1936 games.

On Aug. 3, he got the gold in the 100-meter dash, tying the world record with his time of 10.3 seconds. The following day, he took the gold for the long jump; the man sailed 8.06 meters (26 feet and 5.14 inches) -- an Olympic record. On Aug. 5, he was still going strong. He earned another Olympic record by running the 200 meter in 20.7 seconds. By the time Aug. 9 came to a close -- surprise! -- another world record under his belt and a gold medal around his neck. Along with teammates Ralph Metcalfe, Foy Draper and Frank Wykoff, the four sprinters completed the 4x100 meter relay in 39.8 seconds. Both an Olympic and a world record.

So four gold medals and a slew of record-setting athletic feats later, it almost seems as if Jesse Owens was the only real competition for Jesse Owens. What do you have to say now, Hitler?