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Monday, 28 November 2016

Jesse Owens

James Cleveland Owens was born in Danville, Alabama. on September 12, 1913 to sharecropper Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald.

He was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys.

He was called "J. C. ", but due to his strong southern accent people thought his name was Jesse.

J.C. was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South.

J.C. set his first track record by running the 100-yard dash in l0 seconds as a pupil at Cleveland's Fairview Junior High School in 1932.

Owens first came to national attention when he as a high school student he won three National Interscholastic Championships in 1933 in Chicago. In the 100-yard dash he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds.

He enrolled at Ohio State University in 1934 and had a remarkable track and field career there. On one day, May 25, 1935, during a Big Ten meet at the University of Michigan, Owens set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash (9.4 seconds) and set new world records for the 220-yard dash (20.3 seconds), the 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 seconds), and the long jump (26 feet 8 1/4 inches, or 8.13 meters).

The Olympic Games of 1936 were held in Berlin, Germany, under the auspices of Adolf Hitler's new Nazi regime. It was Hitler's intent to use the games to demonstrate what he believed to be the superiority of the Aryan, or white, race. On August 3, 1936 Jesse Owens won the 100 metre dash, the first of his four gold medals, dashing the Nazi leader's hopes of Aryan domination. Hitler stormed out of the stadium rather than present the awards to the African American athlete.

Jesse Owens at start of record breaking 200 meter race during the Olympic games 1936 in Berlin

In Berlin, Owens set a long jump record of just over 317 in (26 ft 5 in). that lasted for 25 years. He also set a new world record in the 200-meter race (20.7 seconds).

A ticker-tape parade was held to celebrate his Olympic medals. However,  Jesse Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria and instead forced to travel up to the event in a freight elevator to reach the reception honoring him.

After his Olympic triumph, Owens graduated in 1937 and found various jobs to support his family.
One of his jobs involved racing against dogs or horses during the half-time intermission of local soccer and baseball games. He also worked for a number of years for the Illinois Athletic Commission.

Jesse Owens on the podium after winning the long jump at the 1936 Summer Olympics

He left the commission in 1955 and made goodwill trips to India and the Far East for the State Department.

Owens also served as a running coach for the New York Mets in 1965. However, his time there was unsuccessful, with the team only stealing 28 bases that year.

Owens died of lung cancer in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 31, 1980.

President George H. W. Bush posthumously awarded Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal on March 28, 1990.

The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track and Field's highest accolade for the year's best track and field athlete.

Sources Comptons Encyclopedia, HowThey Play

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