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I remember Hitler moving away when Jesse Owens was getting his medals. I was a child and didn't understand; GYMNAST ON SEEING HISTORY MADE IN JUST 10.3 SECONDS AT 1936 OLYMPICS IN GERMANY.

Byline: Lesley Roberts

| It took just 10.3 seconds to change the world.

When American track and field star Jesse Owens raced to victory in the 100m at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he tore through Hitler's dream of Aryan supremacy - and he did it while the Fuhrer watched from a grandstand.

The next day, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, won a second gold medal, this time in the long jump. The day after that, he won the 200m. Four days later, he won his fourth Olympic gold in the 4x100m relay.

This year sees the 80th anniversary of those breathtaking performances that sealed his place as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

And three films have been competing to get their versions of the Jesse Owens story on to the big screen, recalling his achievements in what is another Olympic year.

To one grandmother in the north of Scotland, these historic events have never left her mind over the past eight decades because she was there to see history being made.

At her home in Elgin, 92-year-old Hildegard Fraser is one of the last remaining witnesses to Owens's successes in Berlin.

Born in Germany, she was celebrating her 13th birthday on the day she joined the 1000-strong gymnastic display team whose formation performance was part of the closing ceremony of Hitler's games.

Below, as a young woman Raised by parents who were gymnasts, Hildegard was proud to be chosen from her school to take part in the Olympic ceremony and spent a year training every day for the performance, knowing the Fuhrer expected perfection.

But she spent the preceding two weeks of the Games sneaking into the Olympic Stadium with her friends to watch the athletics and see Owens run.

Hildegard said: "I remember his races. They were out of this world.

"But I was a child at the time. I didn't realise what was going on. It was exciting but we just took it all as quite normal.

"Hitler was there and everyone was cheering. That's what we did then. We didn't know any different."

Hildegard would later go on to fall in love with a Scottish soldier, Lewis Fraser, in the aftermath of the war.

She moved to Scotland and they married in Forres, Moray, where they raised their family, including daughter Patsy Fraser-Mackenzie, who is a top gymnastics coach.

But Hildegard has never forgotten her brush with history and even had a vantage point for what has become one of the most controversial moments in sporting history - whether Hitler snubbed the black athlete or not.

She said: "I remember Hitler moving away when Jesse Owens was getting his prizes. I didn't know why.

"He got out of the way and walked off. Some people booed. I didn't understand it at the time.

"I was too young to know anything much then.

It was only later I realised what it was all about."

Arguments still rage over whether Hitler specifically refused to shake hands with the black athlete. The Nazis were certainly horrified that an African-American had humiliated them on their own patch.

Minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary: "White humanity should be ashamed of itself."

But Owens himself would later claim that if he was snubbed by anyone, it was his own president, Franklin D Roosevelt, who didn't send a message of congratulations or an invitation to the White House to his world-beating countryman.

of congratulations or an invitation to the White House to his world-beating countryman.

In an America still riven by racial discrimination, Owens even had to use the service lift in the posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to reach a party being thrown in his honour.

In an America still riven by racial discrimination, Owens even had to use the service lift in the posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York to reach a party being thrown in his honour.

In fact, despite his obvious talent, Owens had struggled right from the start to get the chance to compete.

In fact, despite his obvious talent, Owens had struggled right from the start to get the chance to compete.

While a student athlete at Ohio State University, his skin colour prevented him being allowed to live on campus or receive a scholarship.

While a student athlete at Ohio State University, his skin colour prevented him being allowed to live on campus or receive a scholarship.

It's all part of a remarkable life story that seems to have suddenly captured the interest of film-makers.

It's all part of a remarkable life story that seems to have suddenly captured the interest of film-makers.

Disney's interpretation of the 2007 book Triumph, which claims to tell the untold story of Owens's Disney's interpretation of the 2007 book Triumph, which claims to tell the untold story of Owens's experience at Berlin, is believed to be still under development.

And a pet project by actor Anthony Mackie, who played Falcon in the Marvel superheroes flick Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has been delayed after the production company folded.

So the winner is set to be the powerful biopic Race, which will open in February, having moved its release date forward to be doubly sure of being first off the blocks.

It stars Jeremy Irons and William Hurt, with the athlete played by young Canadian actor Stephan James, fresh from his lauded appearance in the Oscar-nominated Selma.

Owens's family were involved in the making of the movie and have been determined that it doesn't present a rose-tinted account of what was a difficult and disturbing period in their recent history. His daughter Marlene Owens Rankin, 76, said: "You do a screening and you find yourself exhausted because it's so emotionally draining.

"It's your family's life out there. It's very difficult. It conjures up so many memories - good ones, bad ones and some very painful.

"It makes you view it from a spectator's perspective and it will show the kind of pressures my father had for most of his life. The fact that he managed it so well is, in a way, painful."

Owens died of lung cancer in 1980. He had been a heavy smoker for 35 years.

Marlene hopes the film, out next month, will inspire children to persevere in the face of adversity, just as he did."Hopefully kids who are under-achieving and lack hope will be motivated by his life and successes in spite of all he went through."

Hopefully kids who lack hope will be motivated by Jesse's amazing life and successes

CAPTION(S):

memories Hildegard. Below, as a young woman

legend From top, Owens crosses the finish line to win the 200m race in August 1936 in Berlin; with his wife Ruth on his return; below, Hitler and his staff salute e fore the Games

on right track Stephan James, above and right, plays Owens in film Race
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jan 3, 2016
Words:1152
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