Moments in Time: The day Hitler lost the war for hearts and minds

By April 20, 2020

In 1936 Jesse Owens won four gold medals at a single Olympics. That has been equalled on the track but has never been surpassed. The moment was something track & Field would never forget.

The Olympics were to be held in Berlin, Germany in 1936 and while the World was not to know this just yet, but a second World War would give the event added significance.

Owen’s achievement, on the back of what was to come in the world of men and war, was important. The achievement was special, the where, when and why of it cannot be overstated, however, I would like to focus on one of those gold medals, more specifically, the long jump.

Owens would win the 100, 200, 4x100-metre relay, and the long jump. The last of these has a fantastic story and makes for an absolutely brilliant moment in time.

The American was an unknown quantity to the World, though he did achieve World record-runs in 1935 during his final year on the collegiate circuit.

At the Olympics a year later, the sprinter made his first gold medal look easy.

He would run away with the 100-metre dash, equaling the world record and winning by a tenth of a second.

Now that he was no longer an unknown quantity at the ’36 Olympics, Owens was in for a challenge.

The story goes, the officials would not allow Owens to win a second gold medal, especially since Adolf Hitler, the charismatic German leader, was intent on showing the world that his country was, again, a force to reckon with and Luz Long, a countryman, was a serious challenger in the event.

The story goes on to suggest that Owens was deliberately called for foul jumps on his first two attempts in the final, but that Long suggest the American jump from further back, making it impossible for there to be a discrepancy.

Even with the disadvantage and only one clean jump, Owens still managed 8.06 metres, just three and a quarter inches outside of his World Record.

Long was beaten, but the moment to remember still hadn’t come yet.

That moment would come immediately after the medal ceremony for the long jump where Long and Owens would celebrate their achievements by walking arm in arm around the stadium.

The symbol was powerful and that, even more than a black man dispelling the myth that there was a superior Aryan race in existence, every man should be respected.

Even in the midst of differing opinions on politics and what have you, people could find common ground. That common ground, on this particular occasion, was sport.

For that reason, while Owens’ achievement during those Olympics was remarkable, there was another hero who should be celebrated. Long’s gestures, during the event and at the medal ceremony, should be remembered for the great sporting moment it was.

Hitler would go on to lose World War II but the first battle he lost came at those ’36 Olympics right in his backyard.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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