Last night on PBS American Experience (http://tinyurl.com/83pojz5 ) series there was an excellent documentary on Jesse Owens. There was some training and competition footage that I had never seen before. What a perfect technical model of sprint mechanics! I don’t have many heroes in sport but Jesse Owens is one of them. Watching this documentary reminded me again just how great he was. There are no superlatives to describe his accomplishment of breaking three world records in one day and tying a fourth all in the span of an hour. He did this on a track that was chewed up, without starting blocks, with shoes that probably weighed two to three times what today’s spikes weigh and without any of the benefits of modern training methods. In my book he is the greatest track & field athlete of all time!
He also was a class individual. I got to meet Jesse Owens in my first week coaching in 1969. He was in Santa Barbara to give a speech that evening and he stopped by Santa Barbara High School to talk to the track team. His message was clear and on point, work hard keep your chin up in the face of adversity and respect yourself and your coaches. At the end of his talk he asked one the boys to stand up, it was Sam Cunningham, later known as Sam “Bam” Cunningham at USC and withbthe Boston Patriots, he said that he had heard he was a great athlete and wanted to wish him luck. I think it took Sam about two weeks to come down from that. If you get a chance watch the program it is well worth it.