News-Antique.com - Nov 03,2008 - Santa Fe, Nov. 3, 2008 -- It took nine days for the SS Manhattan to cross the Atlantic Ocean on its way to Germany in 1936. The U.S. Olympic team was its precious cargo.
Jesse Owens felt seasick for most of the voyage. By the time the ship docked on July 24 the runner’s arms and legs were stiff from being confined onboard.
The Olympic team immediately boarded a train for Berlin. As they approached the city they could see the swastikas hanging from flagpoles, banners and military uniforms. The swastikas also hung from all the halls and stadiums of the Olympic Games.
Nazism was raging in Europe and Hitler was making a statement about the power of the Third Reich that was impossible to ignore. The Olympic Games were his way of showcasing his “peaceful” regime.
As an African American athlete Owens was an oddity. His very presence at the games challenged Hitler’s notion of the superiority of the Aryan master race.
On Aug. 3, Owens won a gold medal in the 100-meter sprint. His time of 10.3 seconds tied the world record in the event. On Aug. 4, Owens took gold again in the long jump with an Olympic record jump of 26’ 5¼”. On Aug. 5, he captured the 200-meter sprint in 20.7 seconds, another Olympic record. On Aug. 9, Owens entered the 400 meter relay (first leg) in 39.8 seconds, an Olympic and world record and a fourth gold medal.
When all was said and done the most popular athlete in the games turned out to be Afro American sprinter and jumper Jesse Owens.
“For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world,” Owens said.
On Aug. 1, a collection of Jesse Owens memorabilia related to the 1936 Berlin Olympics went on the block at Mastro Auctions 2nd Annual Sports Memorabilia Auction in Chicago.
The collection sold for $10,200.
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