May 25, 2005
Eventual four-time Olympic Gold Medal winner snaps world marks in the 220-yard dash, 220-yard hurdles and broad jump; ties world record in 100-yard dash.
On May 25, 1935, then-Buckeye and soon-to-be hero of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games Jesse Owens set three world records and tied a fourth in a time span of less than two hours.
Competing at the Western Conference (now known as the Big Ten Conference) Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owens first raced to a winning time in the 100-yard dash. He crossed the finish line in 9.4 second, a time that equaled the existing world mark.
Then, he proceeded to string together three world record marks in the short span of 70 minutes. His run started at the broad (long) jump pit, where he reached 26 feet, 8 ¼ inches to snap the existing world mark by a whopping 6 inches.
Approximately 10 minutes later, Owens bested his second world record. This time, he won the 220-yard dash in a time of 20.30, beating the world standard by three-tenths of a second.
The third world record fell into the hands of the “Buckeye Bullet” in the 220-yard low hurdles, where the native of Cleveland, Ohio dashed and bounded to a first-place time of 22.60, topping the previous world record by four-tenths of a second.
Throughout the storied history of Ohio State athletics, Owens is the one name that stands out among all past greats, no matter the sport. His unparalleled accomplishments on the track, captivating charm and tireless efforts on behalf of young people made him a legend around the world.
The year 1936 could simply be termed the year of Jesse Owens. The premier track athlete in the world, Owens was undefeated in 42 events for Ohio State that season. He won four titles at the Western Conference Championships, four at the NCAA Championships, two at the N.A.A.U. Championships and three at the Olympic Trials.
The defining moment of Owens’ career came in the 1936 Olympics in Nazi-controlled Berlin, Germany. Owens shattered Hitler’s myth of Aryan superiority by winning gold medals in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, broad jump and as a member of the United States 4×100-meter relay team.
In 1950, the Associated Press named Owens its Track Athlete of the First Half-Century. In 1955, the State Department named him America’s “Ambassador of Sports.” Owens toured the world, meeting with government and sports officials and promoting the virtues of amateur sports programs. In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Owens with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the United State Medal of Freedom.
Owens’ athletics career began in junior high school in Cleveland, Ohio, where he set national records in both the high jump and the broad jump. At East Tech High School, Owens set scholastic world records in the 220-yard dash and the broad jump and tied a world record in the 100-yard dash.
In the fall of 1933, Owens enrolled at The Ohio State University. Under the tutelage of Buckeye track coach Larry Snyder, Owens rose to international prominence his sophomore season. He recorded world indoor records in both the 60-meter dash and 60-yard dash and compiled 45 first-place, five second-place and four third-place finishes that season.
Owens continued to serve his country and amateur sports until his death on March 31, 1980. He is survived by his three daughters, Gloria, Beverly and Marlene. His wife, Ruth, passed away in 2001.