On Aug. 9, 1936, Jesse Owens became the first African-American athlete to win four gold medals during the Berlin Summer Olympics.
Owens’ first win came on Aug. 3 when he won the 100m sprint event. His second win was in the long jump event on Aug. 4. On Aug. 5, Owens won the 200m sprint, and on Aug. 9, he won gold as part of the 4 x 100m relay team.
Owens’ performance struck a symbolic blow to German leader Adolf Hitler’s intentions to use the games to promote his ideas of Aryan superiority.
Owens died in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980, from lung cancer.
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(Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)