Thursday, September 6, 2012
The English dictionary defines Conquering as to gain victory over; master; win in war which was what Owens, born as the seventh child in a family of eleven in a small part of Alabama, most of his growing up was in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents Henry and Emma were often concerned for his welfare when he was young, as he was always taking ill. Athletes have taken great strides all throughout this century but few can compare to those of Jesse Owens. He rose above sickness and became one of the world’s greatest Olympians. This was a tough man who knew what he wanted to accomplish and set out to do just that. He was known to attribute all of his future Olympic successes to this trainer/ coach. The transformational coach Charles Riley and he changed Jesse's life and our history for all time. Jesse Owens first athletic splash was in 1935 when he set world records in the long jump, 220 yard dash and 220 yard low hurdles. No other athlete in history has made such an indelible mark. In 1936 Jesse Owens arrived at the summer Olympics in Berlin with hatred all around him in Hitler's Germany, fought hard and won a total of four gold medals. While Germany could only watch and grumble. One can almost see Hitler's face watching a black man - who he’d depicted as anything but human in German propaganda - beat his pure blooded Germans. Everyone was thrilled at Jesse's successes but the fourth race was not even supposed to be his. There were two Jewish men named Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller who were meant to run that race. Some speculated they were pulled out not because they couldn't do it or because Jesse was better per se but only because Hitler didn't want to be beaten by Jews. It may have worked out for the best; because Jesse Owens winning the relay event set another world record-his last event at the Olympics and went with pride and success. Even the Germans were impressed and asked for his autograph, which he signed gracefully and aplomb.