London 2012

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens became the first American to win four athletics gold medals at the same Games in Berlin in 1936.

Hitler and his Nazi party had aimed to use the Games as a showcase for their ideas of Aryan supremacy but instead Owens, an African American son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, held up their racist ideology to ridicule.

Owens had shown what he was capable of when, in 1935, he set three world records and tied a fourth in the space of 45 minutes, including a long jump benchmark that lasted for 25 years.

In Berlin a year later, he won the 100 metres, long jump, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay with a succession of virtuoso performances.

Fascinating Facts

  • His nickname was 'The Buckeye Bullet'.
  • His birth name was James Cleveland Owens.
  • Jesse was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a civilian, by Gerald R. Ford in 1976.

In his post-Olympic career, Owens travelled widely and was an inspirational speaker. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, in 1976.

He died on March 31, 1980 in Tucson, Arizona.

Jesse Owens

  • DOB: 12/9/1913
  • Event: Athletics
  • Medals: 4 golds- 1936