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?