On This Day

Jesse Owens

Track and Field Athlete Jesse Owens

Full Name: James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens
Profession: Track and Field Athlete

United States of America

Biography: Considered the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.

In less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens set three world records and tied another in what has been called "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport" and has never been equaled.

Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany. As the most successful athlete at the games he single-handedly crushed Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy.

Born: September 12, 1913
Birthplace: Oakville, Alabama, USA

Generation: Greatest Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Ox
Star Sign: Virgo

Died: March 31, 1980 (aged 66)
Cause of Death: Lung cancer

Historical Events

  • 1935-05-25 Legendary American athlete Jesse Owens equals or breaks 4 world records in 45 minutes at a Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan; remembered as "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport"
  • 1936-06-20 Jesse Owens of US sets 100 meter record at 10.2
  • 1936-08-03 American sprinter Jesse Owens wins the 100m (10.3 seconds) in front of Adolf Hitler in a famous race at the Berlin Olympics, first of 4 gold medals at the Games
  • 1936-08-04 American athlete Jesse Owens wins his 2nd gold medal at the Berlin Olympics; beats German Luz Long in the long jump final with an Olympic record
  • 1936-08-05 American athlete Jesse Owens wins 200m in world record time (20.7s), his 3rd gold medal of the Berlin Olympics
  • 1936-08-09 Jesse Owens is part of the American 4 x 100m relay team that wins gold in world record (39.8) at the Berlin Olympics; his 4th gold medal of the Games
  • 1953-01-19 American track and field olympian Jesse Owens named Illinois Athletic Commission secretary
  • 1955-10-18 Track & Field names Jesse Owens all-time track athlete
  • 1973-06-28 Black Sports Hall of Fame forms: Paul Robeson, Elgin Baylor, Jesse Owens, Jim Brown, Wilma Rudolph, Joe Louis and Althea Gibson elected
  • 1984-08-11 Carl Lewis duplicates Jesse Owens' 1936 feat, winning his 4th Olympic gold medal as part of the US 4 x 100m relay team; world record (37.83)
  • 1990-03-28 US President George H. W. Bush posthumously awards Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal

Famous Track and Field Athletes