Jesse Owens was a record-setting African-American track and field athlete who transcended sports and triumphed over discrimination. As depicted in the movie Race, Owens captivated the world’s attention through his exceptional performances at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And that only touches on Jesse Owens’ accomplishments and contributions to his sport and to the world.
The 1936 Berlin Olympics took place during Hitler’s Nazi regime. Owens provided a demonstrative rebuke of Hitler’s ideology by winning no less than four gold medals at the Olympic games. In the process, Owens shattered racial stereotypes in a hostile environment and showcased the capabilities of black athletes on a global stage.
In addition to his Olympics triumph, Owens also set world records in various track and field events during his career. Owens established three world records and tied another in the span of 45 minutes at the Big Ten Championships in 1935.
Jesse Owens’ achievements far-exceeded mere athletic accomplishments, world-records or Olympic gold medals: he symbolized what was possible, he broke down barriers, and he contributed to civil rights issues and the right for equality throughout the world.
While he died on March 31, 1980, Jesse Owens’ courage, accomplishments, and legacy live on forever.
“To a sprinter, the hundred-yard dash is over in three seconds, not nine or ten.
The first ‘second’ is when you come out of the blocks. The next is when you look up and take your first few strides to attain gain position. By that time the race is actually about half over.
The final ‘second’ – the longest slice of time in the world for an athlete – is that last half of the race, when you really bear down and see what you’re made of. It seems to take an eternity, yet is all over before you can think what’s happening.”
© 2023 Jesse Owens Trust c/o Luminary Group LLC