Jesse Owens

Today in Performance Sneaker History: Jesse Owens is Born in Oakville, Alabama

On this day in 1913, one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time was born in Oakville, Alabama. Jesse Owens picked up his love for running during junior high school, where he would practice in the mornings before school. While in high school, Owens matched a 100-yard dash world record at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago.

After high school, Owens wound up at Ohio State University and at a Big Ten meet, he set a number of world records including the long jump and 220-yard sprint. During the event, he also managed to reach the 9.4 second world record for the 100-yard dash, just as he had done in high school.

But Owens’ crowning achievement would come at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. Faced with racial tensions and uproar in the midst of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Jesse Owens prevailed and won four gold medals (a record at the time.) During a period when Hitler had been spewing racist propaganda, Owens’ heroic win helped to dispel some of the dictator’s credibility. Even more, Owens famous track spikes were provided by adidas founder Adi Dassler, in a move which literally put lives at risk. For more on the infamous story behind the track spikes, visit adidas.

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