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On August 9, 1936, legendary track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Olympic Games in Berlin after running the first leg for the United States victorious 4×100-meter relay team.

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Owens four gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics wouldn’t be matched by another man until 1984, when Carl Lewis replicated the feat in the same four events.


Owens wasn’t originally scheduled to compete in the 4x100m, but the United States head coach had heard rumors that the Germans had been saving their best sprinters for the relay. To counter this threat, Owens and Ralph Metcalfe — the fastest two Americans — were inserted on the team in place of Jewish-American sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller.

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The newly composed American team crushed the field to win the race in a world record time of 39.8 seconds. The German team crossed the finish line in fourth place, but won the bronze medal after the Dutch team was cited for a violation.


German dictator Adolph Hitler had hoped the Berlin Olympics would showcase the superiority of his country’s athletes, but Owens dominating wins in the Games’ signature events — the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay — thwarted the narrative.