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Jesse Owens

The first American athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympics, Jesse Cleveland was born James Cleveland Owens in 1913. He became known as “Jesse Owens” instead of going by “J.C.” when a school teacher thought he said “Jesse” during a classroom roll call.

Owens’ record-setting track and field career began in high school, when he set national records in the long jump and the 100 and 200-yard dashes. He shattered more track and field records while attending Ohio State University. The pinnacle of his career was the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, when he garnered four gold medals in track and field. Gerald R. Ford granted him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. Owens died from lung cancer complications in 1980. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal.

Jesse Owens is found in...

10 Athletes That Changed Sports History
( 10 items )
Item Position (rank): 7