Owens was a standout track performer in college, but he also faced significant obstacles. Owens had to work a variety of jobs throughout college to pay for his tuition because his school did not provide track and field scholarships at the time. He attended Ohio State University for two years before turning professional.
In 1936, when he came back from London where he won four gold medals at the Olympic Games, he already had a national reputation as the best sprinter in the world. His return to America was celebrated with parades and concerts. However, racial tensions were high, and there were threats on his life. During this period, several black athletes achieved success in various sports, which only intensified the need for more prominent black athletes. This is when Jesse Owens became one of the first black athletes to be accepted by society as a role model.
After graduating from college, Owens set up shop as a coach in California. He spent three years building a network of runners while earning a living by coaching others. In 1939, at the age of 30, he returned to Columbus, Ohio, to take up a position with the Department of Agriculture. There he helped develop standards for food production while continuing to train farmers' children free of charge.
Owens rose through the ranks at the USDA until he was appointed director of physical development for men at the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee.
Owens' track and field career began in high school, when he won three events at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championships. He tied one world record and broke three more two years later while racing for Ohio State University before qualifying for and competed in the 1936 Olympics. After his graduation, Owens worked as a janitor to make money while training full time for the U.S. Olympic team.
Owens first attracted attention at the 1948 London Games when he set new records in each of his four events. The following year he became the first man to win four gold medals when he outdistanced Soviet rival Vasiliy Lomov by more than 20 points (Lomov took only third place). Owens continued to dominate international competitions, winning eight gold medals and setting 15 new records between 1949 and 1952. His final race on the global stage came at those same Olympics, where he finished second behind American Ralph Boston with a best mark of 1:45.4. Owens died in 1978 at the age of 44.
After graduating from high school, Owens worked as a janitor at Ohio State University to support himself while he trained full time for the U.S. Olympic team. He made his official debut at the 1935 World Student Games in Dublin, where he won all four of his races including the 10,000-meter event. At the 1936 Berlin Games, he improved his previous performance and set three new world records: 28:10.
Owens immediately established himself as a nationally famous sprinter at East Technical High School, establishing records in the 100 and 200-yard sprints, as well as the long jump. Following graduation, Owens attended at Ohio State University, where he excelled as an athlete. He set eight world records during his career at OSU.
Owens died in March 1980 after suffering brain damage due to complications from pneumonia. He was 28 years old.
Owens' achievements during his time at OSU brought him national attention. In April 2000, the United States Olympic Committee voted to grant him the honor of being posthumously inducted into the International Olympic Academy.
The decision was based on votes by members of the academy, who considered how successful Owens had been since retiring from competition. He worked with KCAA until his death, serving as a consultant for various projects including the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Owens is also recognized for his role in bringing international attention to track and field events. From 1936 to 1948, he competed in four consecutive Summer Olympics, winning three gold medals and one silver medal. He is the only person ever to win gold medals in both the 100 meters and 200 meters at the same Olympics.
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Owens gained national recognition for his role in promoting equality for black athletes.
After the Olympics, Jesse Owens struggled to find job. He raced horses for money while also working as a gas station attendant and a playground cleaner. In the 1950s, Owens began working in public relations, taking use of his celebrity by touring the country and making paid appearances at public events. This earned him enough money to buy a car dealership in his home town of Columbus, Ohio.
Owens sold the dealership several years later and moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a commentator for television coverage of sports events. He also served as host of The Sports Parade, a weekly show that aired on CBS from 1970 to 1972.
In 1973, Owens published his autobiography titled Black Gold: The Story of Jesse Owens. The following year, he released a second book called I Can Tell You One Thing... : The Life of Jesse Owens. In 1976, he appeared as himself in the movie version of John Grisham's novel The Firm. That same year, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Two years later, Owens died at the age of 39 after suffering heart problems during training for an exhibition race in Germany.
Jesse Owens went to eight Olympic Games in total, winning four gold medals and setting three world records. His overall victory rate of 95 percent is the highest of all time.
Owens assisted in the promotion of the exploitation picture Mom and Dad among African American communities. He attempted to earn a life as a sports promoter and performer. He would defeat local sprinters in the 100-yard (91-meter) dash by giving them a ten- or twenty-yard head start. This stunt made him popular with poor blacks across America who enjoyed seeing him run.
Owens's influence on black Americans during the Great Depression was important for it showed that even though they were treated badly at times, many white Americans wanted to see them succeed in their sporting events. His influence continued after World War II when many black athletes came together to form powerful unions that helped improve their working conditions.
In addition, Owens contributed to black history by breaking down racial barriers in sport. Before his time, there were no black athletes who had any chance of winning a gold medal at the Berlin Games. But he changed this all up when he took part in these games and won four gold medals. His victory also proved that blacks were able only because they used skills that had been built up over years of struggle against oppression.
After his victory at the 1936 Olympics, Owens became an international celebrity who visited many countries including Germany, France, and England. He returned home to attend the University of Pennsylvania but dropped out to work full time for the Philadelphia Athletics baseball team.