"I always loved running - it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."
—Olympic Gold Medalist Jesse Owens
Believed by many to be the most important American Olympic athlete of the twentieth century, Jesse Owens' remarkable achievements at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany foreshadowed the Allies eventual triumph over the Axis Powers in World War II. Although frail and sickly as a child, Owens developed into a strong runner, winning national high school titles in three events. Pursued by dozens of colleges, he chose to go to Ohio State University, where he worked his way through school. Following tremendous success at the 1935 Big Ten Championships including the setting of three world records in track and field events, Owens began preparations for the 1936 Olympics.
At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Owens stunned the world by capturing four gold medals in track and field (100-meter, 200-meter, long jump and 4x100-meter relay events). Owens became the first American track and field athlete to garner four gold medals in a single Olympic Games. It was not until 1984, almost fifty years later that another American track and field athlete, Carl Lewis, would match Owens’s record.