US black athlete, who in the 1980s was acclaimed as the greatest track and field competitor since Jesse Owens.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Lewis became nationally known in 1981, when he was given the Sullivan Award for the top US amateur athlete. In 1983 he set new world records for the javelin with a throw of 8.79 metres (28 ft 10¼ in) and in the 200 metres event with a time of 19.75 seconds. In the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles he won four gold medals – in the 100 metres, 200 metres, long jump, and (setting a new world record) the 4 × 100 metres relay event; these were the same events for which Owens won gold medals in 1936. In the 1988 Seoul Olympics he repeated his victory in the 100 metres and long jump events and won a silver medal for the 200 metres race; his time of 9.92 seconds in the 100 metres established another world record. In 1989 he set yet another world record as part of a 4 × 200 metres team in Koblenz. He captured his third world championship title in the 100 metres event in 1991, establishing a new record of 9.86 seconds. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona he earned a seventh Olympic gold medal for his performance in the long jump.
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — United States History.