In August 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Berlin.

Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics; picture from

Before this, in 1935, Owens made sporting history when he broke five world records, including the long jump which would not be beat for another 25 years.

At the 1936 Olympic Berlin Games, Owens won his four medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, and the long jump. He managed to break or equal nine Olympic records, and he set three world records.

Yep. He was pretty much awesome.

At the Berlin Games, Hitler thought and hoped that they would prove his theory of Aryan racial superiority. As you can imagine, this did not go as he planned. Instead, Owens’ achievements led the people of Berlin to hail him, revere him, applaud him– an African-American– as a hero.

Here are some of Owens’ awards and achievements:


  • On May 25, 1935, at the Big Ten Conference Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens broke three world records (long jump, 220-yard dash and 220-yard low hurdles) and tied a fourth (100-yard dash), all in a 45 minute span.
  • In his junior year at Ohio State, Owens competed in 42 events and won them all, including four in the Big Ten Championships, four in the NCAA Championships, two in the AAU Championships and three at the Olympic Trials.
  • In 1936, Jesse became the first American in Olympic Track and Field history to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad by winning four gold medals: 100 meter dash in 10.3 seconds (tying the world record), long jump with a jump of 26′ 5 1/4″ (Olympic record), 200 meter dash in 20.7 seconds (Olympic record), and 400 meter relay (first leg) in 39.8 seconds (Olympic and world record).
  • In 1976, Jesse was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award bestowed upon a civilian, by Gerald R. Ford.
  • Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.

A recent movie Race was released this year about Jesse Owens. There are also plenty of books and at least one documentary about him. You can check Amazon for these.

Are you watching the Olympics this year? What’s your favorite event?