JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 2030JESSE OWENS WON OLYMPIC LONG JUMP 80 YEARS AGO TODAY
Berlin, Germany (JFK+50) Eighty years ago today, August 4, 1936, African-American athlete Jesse Owens* won a gold medal here in Berlin at the Summer Olympic Games**.
Jesse Owens was one of 4000 athletes from 49 nations attending the 1936 Summer Olympics held during the reign of Germany's Third Reich. Germany won 89 medals finishing in first place, followed by the USA with 56.
Owens, known as the "Buckeye Bullet", won the long jump. His jump of 26 feet, 5 and one-half inches set an Olympic record which would stand for 24 years.
Jesse Owens described his skill in the long jump as follows...
"I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up."
*Jesse Owens (1913-1980) was born in Oakville, Alabama and graduated from Ohio State University where he won 8 individual NCAA championships.
Jesse won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games. He died at the age of 66 in Tuscon, Arizona.
**The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were opened on August 1st by Adolf Hitler. Germany fielded 348 athletes while the USA had 312 participants. The Nazis used the games as a propaganda vehicle by promoting the image of a strong, united nation while hiding their antisemitic & racist policies.
The '36 Games were the first to be televised. They were also broadcast by radio to 41 countries. Only one Jewish athlete, Helene Mayer, who won a silver medal in fencing, represented Germany.
With the outbreak of WWII, the next Olympic Games were not held until 1948.
"The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936," Holocaust Encyclopedia, www.ushmm.org/