Owens was born in Alabama in 1913 to a poor, black family. Even when Jesse was
a boy, it was clear that he had special athletic ability. He could run
extremely fast. In high school he was a long-jump champion.
family didn't have enough money to send him to college. However, because he was
an excellent athlete he was able to get a scholarship to Ohio State University.
Owens was the star of the Ohio State track team. In one college track event in
1935, he broke three world records in less than an hour! Owens was chosen for
the 1936 U.S. Olympic team.
1936 Summer Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany. Adolf Hitler had come to
power two years before. Hitler believed that the people of Germany and other
northern European countries were better than all other people in the world.
Hitler wanted to show the world the Germans were the best so he ordered the
German team to train hard.
the Olympics, Jesse Owens won both the 100-meter race and the 200-meter race.
His time in the 200-meter race set a new Olympic record. Owens was also on the
U.S. 400-meter relay team. The U.S. relay team won.
came the long jump. A German athlete broke the Olympic record. Hitler said that
he personally would congratulate the winner. But Owens still had one more jump.
He jumped several inches further than the German athlete. Hitler left the
stadium in anger. Jesse Owens, a black American, had won his fourth gold medal
at the Olympics. Jesse Owens was a hero.