US black athlete, numbered among the greatest track and field competitors in the first half of the twentieth century.
Born at Danville, Alabama, the son of a poor farmer, Owens soon showed an aptitude for athletics and became renowned for his natural grace of movement. In May 1935, at an event in Michigan, he beat or equalled six world records. His long jump of 8.13 metres (26 ft 8¼ in) was not beaten for another twenty-five years. Owens will always be associated with the Berlin Olympics of 1936, when he won four gold medals in defiance of Hitler's racist views – in the 100 metres, 200 metres, long jump, and 4 × 100 metres relay. Soon after those Games he turned professional so no-one was really able to measure what he might have ultimately achieved.
Subjects: History — Sport and Leisure.