On this day: Jesse Owens wins his 4th gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics ( August 9th 1936)
Owens had already broken two world records at the 1936 Summer Olympics, taking gold in the 200-meters and in the long jump. His first gold medal of the Games came from equalling the world record in the 100-meter race.
The US team winning the 4×100-meter relay would not only earn him his 4th medal of the tournament but also set a record that held for 20 years.
No stranger to record breaking feats, Owens had already made a name for himself one year previous when he set three world records and tied another, all in less than an hour, at the Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Since called the “greatest 45 minutes ever in sport” – Owen’s feat in 1935 has never been equalled.
From making money delivering groceries as a young man to working in a shoe repair shop; Jesse Owens would realise at a young age that he had a passion for running. Yet despite his success, the racial discrimination that he experienced throughout his life would lead him to pursue other job opportunities beyond amateur athletics – taking on menial jobs in gas stations, and managing a dry cleaning firm. He would also race horses in competitions.
Explaining his situation later in life, Owens said, “People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can’t eat four gold medals.”
Adding: “There was no television, no big advertising, no endorsements then. Not for a black man, anyway.”