Today in Sports History: August 4

In 1936, American track and field athlete, Jesse Owens, won his 2nd gold medal at the Berlin Summer Olympics. He beat German athlete, Luz Long, in the long jump final and recorded an Olympic record. 

Owens was known for competing in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and relay races. In the 1936 Olympic games, Owens won gold medals in the 100m in 10.3 seconds, the 200m in 20.7 seconds, and the long jump with a leap of 8.06 meters. His last medal was from the 4x100m relay where the team set a world record of 39.8 seconds.

At the 1935 Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Owens set three world records and tied a fourth all within 45 minutes. His success at the Big Ten Championship gave him the confidence to try out for the Olympic Team the following year.

Owens became an important symbol and icon for fighting for equality. World War II did not let Owens compete within the 1940 and 1944 Summer Olympic Games. His records will most likely never be beaten.

During his post-Olympic days, Owens traveled a lot. He was an inspirational speaker providing insight for youth groups, professional organizations, civic meetings, sport banquets, commencements, and ceremonies. He was also a public relations representative to Atlantic Richfield and Ford and the United States Olympic Committee.

Owens was awarded the highest civilian honor in the United States when former President Ford presented him with the Medal of Freedom in 1976. In 1979, he returned to the white House where former President Carter presented him the Living Legend Award. 

In 1980, Owens passed away from complications due to lung cancer. His legacy will always live on as one of the greatest athletes of all time. 

He has three daughters who are still living who carry on his legacy and work with the Jesse Owens Foundation. The foundation “carries on his legacy and provides financial assistance, support, and services to young people who cannot afford it themselves in order to develop their talents, broaden their horizons, and become better citizens.” 

Later in 1990, President George H.W. Bush posthumously awarded Owens the Congressional Gold medal.

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