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Owens glory proves big setback for Hitler at Berlin games; WORLD No 1WORLD JESSE OWENS.

THE 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin will forever be known as Owens' Games.

As well as the incredible sporting significance of Jesse Owens' four gold medals, the political importance of his success was huge.

When Owens arrived in Adolf Hitler's Germany in 1936 he was already an American track and field star, but few would have predicted the impact he would have on the Games.

He didn't just win four gold medals, he captured the imagination of the Berlin crowd and the wider world.

Owens started his incredible journey in the 100m, equalling the Olympic record in the heats, breaking it in the quarters before powering his way to gold.

The victory went against everything Hitler's propaganda machine had said about the supremacy of his Aryan race, not that Owens paid much attention.

"I saw the finish line and knew that 10 seconds would climax the work of eight years. One mistake could ruin those eight years. So, why worry about Hitler?" said Owens.

The following day in the long jump he struggled at first, registering two foul jumps before finally reaching the required distance with his final attempt. Germany's gold medal hopeful, Lutz Long, had advised Owens to move back his run-up marker and it helped him sail into the final where he jumped 7.74m to take an early lead.

Long hit back with a jump of 7.87m metres before Owens produced consecutive jumps of 7.94m and 8.06m to take the gold.

He later credited Long with helping him win the event with his advice and Owens' gold was seen as a big setback for Hitler and his concepts of Aryan racial superiority.

Owens' comfortably won the 200m the following day, setting a new Olympic record with a time of 20.7 sec, but his fourth and final gold would come in more controversial circumstances.

He was added to America's 4x100m along with Ralph Metcalfe, the silver medal winner in the 100m, at short notice.

They replaced Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, two Jewish athletes replaced by America apparently at the request of the Germans and Hitler.

The Americans took gold and Owens had his fourth gold, a feat that would not be equalled until Carl Lewis claimed four gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Olympic Games.

CAPTION(S):

Jesse Owens, centre, receives his 1936 long jump gold medal, flanked by Germany''s Lutz Long, right, and Japan's Naoto Tajima
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 22, 2012
Words:407
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