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Main > Sports > James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens

James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 - March 31, 1980, aged 66) was an African American track and field athlete. He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he surprised many by winning four gold medals: On August 3, 1936 he won the 100m sprint, defeating Ralph Metcalfe; on August 4, the long jump (later crediting friendly and helpful advice from German competitor Lutz Long); on August 5, the 200m dash; and, after he was added to the 4 x 100m relay team, his fourth on August 9 (a performance not equalled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics).

Jesse Owens was inducted to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1970. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976 by Gerald Ford and (posthumously) the Congressional Gold Medal by George H. W. Bush on March 28, 1990. In 1984, a street in Berlin was renamed for him, and the Jesse Owens Realschule/Oberschule (a secondary school) is in Berlin-Lichtenberg.

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