Monday, October 2, 2023

Mighty Impressive, Don’t You Think?

By Bob Bakley, Sea Isle City

To the Editor:

With the upcoming Olympics being held next summer, I thought of regaling you with a past Olympics held in Berlin, Germany, in 1936. Please bear with me.

When Jesse Owens was in high school, he went out for the track team and was fast enough to win three gold medals at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championship in Chicago, Illinois.

After high school, he attended Ohio State University, where he became the first Black captain of any Ohio State University sports team and was nicknamed the “Buckeye Bullet.”

At the Big Ten Championship, held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1935, he competed in four events and within 55 minutes won four gold medals, leading his team to victory. The amazing part is he set a world record in the 100-yard dash, established a world record in the long jump (that lasted for 25 years!), and came back and set world records in the 220 dash and 220-yard hurdles.

A footnote: The night before this astounding athletic display, he fell down his dorm steps and injured his back and he didn’t think he would be able to compete the next day. Makes you wonder what he might have done had he been completely healthy?

All the above was a prelude to the outstanding performance in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. On the first day of the competition, he won the 100-meter dash for an Olympic record. He followed that in the coming days with three more gold medals in the 200-meter race, long jump, and the 4 X 100 meter relay.

In 2000, ESPN Sports Century created a list on the leading 100 athletes of the 20th century. Jesse Owens was ranked sixth in Track & Field. Seems a little low, don’t you think, when you consider his amateur career consisted of just four years and all those gold medals.


Sea Isle City

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