Earlier this week, Sneaker Report flashed back to the 1984 Olympics, where runner Carl Lewis set an Olympic mark by capturing four gold medals. The only other athlete to complete the feat of earning four different golds in a single Olympic games was Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. On August 9, 1936, Owens finished the Berlin Olympics with gold medals in the 100 m, 200 m, and 4x 100 meter relay, as well as the long jump.
Surrounded by mounting racial tension and controversy in the Nazi Germany atmosphere, Owens rose to the occasion in the face of adversity. First, on August 3, Owens won the 100 meter sprint with a time of 10.3 seconds. Next up was the long jump on August 4, which Owens led with a height of 26 feet, five inches. On August 5, he tackled the 200 meter sprint with a winning time of 20.7 seconds. Finally, on August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4x 100 relay with a world record of 39.8 seconds.
To make matters even more controversial in Berlin, a pair of track spikes created by adidas founder Adi Dassler somehow found their way onto Owens' feet. The details as to how the spikes ended up with Owens aren't clear, but the scene caused by them certainly is: "He told Adi he couldn’t do that, there would be hell to pay if the Nazis found out," Dassler's mentor Frank Martz said, recounting the reaction of German track coach Jo Waitzer. "Waitzer was the one most in danger, but he got two or three pairs to Owens to try out. By the third pair, Owens was so convinced by them he said he wanted those shoes or none at all," explained Martz. The lesson here? Persistence pays off, even in the face of a violent dictatorship.
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