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Decorated Olympic Athlete
Jesse Owens is one of the most decorated Olympic athletes of all time and this story is his account of one special moment in his Olympic career. Set against the backdrop of the 1936 Olympics in the German capital of Berlin, the stage was set as one of the most heroic moments of Jones’s career.
He would end up with a haul of four Gold medals at the Berlin Olympics but the moment he describes his greatest Olympic moment and his greatest prize came off the podium
Rife Atmosphere in Germany
In Na-zi Germany of the 1930s, the atmosphere was rife with racial and ethnic differences and the hosts were strapped and prepared to hold the honour of their race and bestow their dictator, Hitler with the maximum Gold medals ever to be bagged by a host nation.
The protagonist was, of course, an American black man or to put it crude terms a slave man. He had willed and trained himself to the best shape possible with the aim of disproving the racial superiority theory espoused by the Na-zi Germans and other like-minded perspectives.
He had created a buzz by setting a World record in board jump at the collegiate level and now the World was watching with expectant eyes. However, on the day of the event, Owens came across an unknown German athlete named Luz Long who almost touched his record figures in practice sessions only.
Hilter’s Grand Surprise
Luz was Hitler’s grand surprise and Owens resolved to disappoint the Chancellor in his design to dismantle his path to Olympic glory. However, during trials, the emotions get the better of Jesse. He oversteps the jump line by quite a distance on his first jump.
Unable to settle his nerves he does the same on his second. Two foul jumps add immense pressure to all the expectations that were already weighing on his shoulders. Then suddenly he feels an encouraging hand on his shoulder.
It was none other than Lux, the great German hope. He counsels Jesse and tells him that qualifying should be a cakewalk for him. Lux had qualified on his first attempt but he was considerate and generous with his words when nobody would have criticized him if he did not do anything.
He advised Jesse to mark a line before the jump board and to make sure he leaps from that marked line. Jesse follows his new friend’s advice and qualifies with ease.
Jesse Meets Lux
The same night Jesse meets Lux and they interact on several topics from Global politics to Sports and the spirit of healthy competition. Lux even admits his disaffection with the racial supremacy theory of the Na-zi party.
The night reinvigorates Jesse and bolsters his confidence in not just his abilities but in goodness and humanity in general even when faced with forces of hate and prejudice. This cements their friendship forever.
The next day at the finals Lux produces his personal best. However, it was Jesse’s moment to shine and he does that by clinching an Olympic record and bagging his second Gold medal of the event in doing so.
Lux Offers His Wishes
Unsurprisingly, it is Lux who is the first person to offer his wishes and congratulations on such a feat. To make this moment even more ironic they both embrace each other while Hitler is in attendance and gives off a scowl in disapproval.
Tragically, the two would never meet again and Lux would eventually die in the bloody carnage of WWII. But their sportsmanship and relationship would go on to live as an ageless example of true sportsmanship and champion-like friendship. Jesse would go on to win two more Golds and create yet more history.
This account of Jesse Owens is a humbling tale of friendship and compassion conquering the greatest forces of hate and division. Terms like sportsmanship and sporting conduct often are relegated to textbooks and rulebooks but this real-life vent encapsulates the true essence of human endeavours for greatness, compassion for good and triumph of friendship over enmity.