James Cleveland Owens better known as Jesse (because of his initials, J.C) was a track and field immortal. One of eight children of an Alabama cotton-picker, he won an athletics scholarship to Ohio State University at the age of eighteen. In a universities meet in 1935, he beat or equalled six world records in 45 minutes. He ran the 100 yards in 9.4 seconds; 220 yards in 20.3 seconds, setting the 200 metre world record en route; won the 200 yards and 200 metre hurdles; and then cleared 8.13 metres in the long jump!
At the Berlin Olympics in 1936, Hitler had anticipated a show of Aryan superiority. But he hadn’t accounted for Jesse Owens. Owens equalled or broke no more than 12 world records on his way to the 100 metre, 200 metre, the long jump and sprint relay golds at Berlin.
Owens’ 10.2 second record in the 100 metres quarter final heat was disallowed because the wind assistance of two metres per second during the event was fractionally above the permissible limit, much to the displeasure of an American sports writer. He asked, “ How can the wind assist Owens? He runs faster than the wind!”