10. Sporting Achievement Why do the unit?

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esse Owens (1913 – 1980), the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, achieved what no Olympian before him had accomplished. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin has made him the best remembered athlete in Olympic history.

The seventh child of the family was named James Cleveland. "J.C.", as he was called, was nine when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his new schoolteacher gave him the name that was to become known around the world. The teacher was told "J.C." when she asked his name to enter in her roll book, but she thought he said "Jesse". The name stuck and he would be known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.
His promising athletic career began in 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio where he set Junior High School records in the high jump, and in the broad jump. During his high school days, he won all of the major track events, including the Ohio state championship three consecutive years. Owens' sensational high school track career resulted in him being recruited by dozens of colleges. Owens chose the Ohio State University. He worked a number of jobs to support himself and his young wife, Ruth. He worked as a night elevator operator, a waiter, he pumped gas, worked in the library stacks, and served a stint as a page in the Ohio Statehouse, all of this in between practice and record setting on the field in intercollegiate competition.
While at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor on May 25, 1935, he set three world records and tied a fourth, all in a span of about 45 minutes. Jesse was uncertain as to whether he would be able to participate at all, as he was suffering from a sore back as a result from a fall down a flight of stairs. But He ran the 100-yard dash as a test for his back, and amazingly Jesse recorded an official time of 9.4 seconds, once again tying the world record. Despite the pain, he then went on to participate in three other events, setting a world record in each event. In a span of 45 minutes, Jesse accomplished what many the greatest athletic feat in history.

His success at the 1935 Big Ten Championships gave him the confidence that he was ready to excel at the highest level. Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany amidst the belief by Hitler that the Games would support his belief that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, as he became the first American track & field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. This remarkable achievement stood unequaled until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when American Carl Lewis matched Jesse's feat. Although others have gone on to win more gold medals than Jesse, he remains the best remembered Olympic athlete because he achieved what no Olympian before or since has a

Owens being awarded his medal.
ccomplished. During a time of deep-rooted segregation, he not only discredited Hitler's master race theory, but also affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or national origin, distinguishes one man from another.
Jesse Owens proved that he was a dreamer who could make the dreams of others come true, a speaker who could make the world listen and a man who held out hope to millions of young people. Throughout his life, he worked with youths, sharing of himself and the little material wealth that he had. In this way, Jesse Owens was equally the champion on the playground of the poorest neighborhoods as he was on the oval of the Olympic games.
He began working with underprivileged youth, which gave him his greatest satisfaction.
Owens traveled widely in his post-Olympic days. He was an inspirational speaker, highly sought after to address youth groups, professional organizations, civic meetings, sports banquets, PTAs, church organizations, brotherhood and black history programs, as well as high school and college commencements and ceremonies. He was also a public relations representative and consultant to many corporations, including Atlantic Richfield, Ford and the United States Olympic Committee.

A complete list of the many awards and honors presented to Jesse Owens by groups around the world would fill dozens of pages. In 1976, Jesse was awarded the highest civilian honor in the United States when President Gerald Ford presented him with the Medal of Freedom in front of the members of the U.S. Montreal Olympic team in attendance. In February, 1979, he returned to the White House, where President Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award. On that occasion, President Carter said this about Jesse, "A young man who possibly didn't even realize the superb nature of his own capabilities went to the Olympics and performed in a way that I don't believe has ever been equaled since...and since this superb achievement, he has continued in his own dedicated but modest way to inspire others to reach for greatness".

Jesse Owens died of lung cancer in 1980 in Arizona. Although words of sorrow, sympathy and admiration poured in from all over the world, perhaps President Carter said it best when he stated: "Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry. His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the prelude to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes, as an unofficial ambassador overseas, and a spokesman for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans."
Jesse's spirit still lives with the Jesse Owens Foundation. The Foundation continues to carry on Jesse's legacy by providing financial assistance, support, and services to young individuals with untapped potential in order to develop their talents, broaden their horizons, and become better citizens. There is no doubt that Jesse would be proud.


his is a gist of the hour long speech by Jessie Owens on his first Gold medal in the Olympics:

"To those of you who laughed at me, thank you.
Without you I wouldn't have cried.
To those of you who just couldn't love me, thank you.
Without you I wouldn't have known real love.
To those of you who hurt my feelings, thank you.
Without you I wouldn't have felt them.
To those of you who left me lonely, thank you.
Without you I wouldn't have discovered myself.
But it is to those of you who thought I couldn't do it;
It is you I thank the most,
Because without you I wouldn't have tried."

9. On the basis of your reading of the text discuss and complete the following tasks

  1. Jesse Owens beat all of the odds and even went against what Hitler had in mind by taking part in the Olympics in 1936. This was a tough man who knew what he wanted to accomplish and set out to do just that. Justify

  2. Design a stamp in memory of Jesse Owens and write a passage justifying it.

  3. Owens later said, "The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals [but] the struggles within yourself," Justify the statement in light of his biography.

  4. As Jesse Owens, write a page in your diary expressing your feelings after your meritorious performance at 1936 Olympics.

  5. Design a commercial starring Jesse Owens.

  6. Invent a new Olympic sport. There are many unusual Olympic sports, like skeleton (running and then sledding), biathlon (skiing plus shooting), and curling (using brooms to propel an object over ice). Make up a new sport that would be fun to watch and play.

10. Group Activity

  • Nazi Supporter, Fellow Athlete, and African American may have felt watching Jesse Owens' victories during the track and field events. Describe, through role plays, how each of them would have felt.

  • Assuming the role of a fellow athlete, Nazi supporter or African-American, students will write a letter to Jesse Owens describing their political views and their feelings about his accomplishments at the 1936 Olympic Games. Make a presentation group wise.

11. Interview

Carl Lewis won four gold medals at the 1984 Olympics, equaling the 1936 accomplishment of his hero, Jesse Owens. He sped to a world record in the 100 meters. Read these excerpts from his interview.



When did you start track and field? What got you started?

I started when I was eight. My mother was a teacher and a’60s feminist, so she wanted to start a track club for girls in my school, and since I was surrounded by it, I took up running.

When you started running, did you realize that you were going to be great?

No! I was awful when I started! I was 5'5" until the end of tenth grade, but by the time I graduated I was six feet. It was thanks to my parents that I actually stuck with running. I’m sure I would have quit if it hadn’t been for them telling me not to give up.

Who were your main influences growing up?

My parents, definitely. They were both teachers, so they taught me discipline. Jesse Owens is another influence, too. Not only did I look up to him athletically, but also it was because of him that I developed a love for history and politics.

What was your motivation to work so hard and endure such grueling practices?

Since I had been such a terrible runner as a kid, always finishing behind the pack, I felt blessed when success began to come my way. I loved that I wasn’t coming in last! So, I guess my motivation was to stay at the front, because I knew too well what it was like coming in last.

What was your proudest moment?

When my father passed away in 1987 he told me two things: first, that I should never miss a track meet, no matter what; second, that he was proud of me. That meant everything to me because my parents had sacrificed so much for my running, and me, and to know that he was proud of my accomplishments made me proud. I actually buried one of my gold medals with him.

Was it overwhelming after your first Olympics to come home and be a huge star?

Yes! It was kind of like the hype around Michael Phelps this last Olympics. From that first January back home, and then for nine straight months, I was on the cover of national magazines: Time, Newsweek, GQ, Sports Illustrated, every week. [Carl was the first person to be on the cover of Time two consecutive weeks. ]

You’re a legend. Are you ever worried that someone will come along and snatch your titles?

No. My time has passed, but you can’t take away what I did. I’d actually like to see someone do what I did, because looking back at it, I had no clue what I was doing. After my first Olympics I was just 23, and it’s only now, at 43, that I’m beginning to comprehend everything I did.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Longevity. Period. My career started in ’79 and ended with an Olympic gold in ’96. Also, consistency. Throughout my entire track and field career I stuck with one coach, one manager, and one club.

You ended with an Olympic gold. Did you do that because you wanted to go out with a bang?

No, I wanted to go out on my own terms. It was bizarre, though, because once I stepped down off that podium with my medal, I had no desire to compete. It was strange.

What are some characteristics of an Olympian?

Determination, being focused, and being able to get along with people. Even in running, which is considered an individual sport, it’s important to get along with others because you have to like and respect your coach - that’s key.

What advice would you give athletes?
Never give up. If I can make it, anyone can. I was supposed to be a horrible runner, I was supposed to give up, but because my mom was the best liar on earth, telling me I would grow and that I was good at running, I continued to run. And you know how people say, “You can be whatever you want to be”? I say you will be whatever you want to be. You just have to be a leader, not a follower, choose to make a difference, help people, and you will be whatever you aspire to be.
12. Answer the following questions

  1. If you were to meet Carl Lewis, what five questions would you like to ask him?

  2. What do you think would be his response?

  3. What is that one answer in his interview that you have really appreciated? Why?

  4. After reading his interview what do you think of Carl Lewis? What are his strengths?

13. Writing

1. Dialogue Writing

If Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens were to meet, what do you think would they discuss?

Write a dialogue that brings out their childhood, achievements and values.

2. Sportsman Spirit—speech writing

  • What is sportsman spirit?

  • How does sportsman spirit help us in ordinary life?

  • If people do know the value of the sporting spirit why then the rarity or the absence of it?

  • How can one develop it?

Write a speech for the morning assembly encouraging the students to develop Sportsman spirit?

14. Language Study

Articles, and determiners are those little words that precede and modify nouns.

Determiners are different to pronouns in that a determiner is always followed by a noun. Therefore personal pronouns ( I , you , he , etc.) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, etc.) cannot be determiners.

The definite and indefinite articles a/an/the are all determiners.

You use a specific determiner when people know exactly which thing(s) or person/people you are talking about.

The specific determiners are:

the definite article : the

demonstratives : this, that, these, those

possessives : my, your, his, her, its, our, their

A, An or The

The and a/an are called "articles". We divide them into "definite" and "indefinite" like this:





a, an

  • We use "definite" to mean sure, certain. "Definite" is particular.

  • We use "indefinite" to mean not sure, not certain. "Indefinite" is general.

When we are talking about one thing in particular, we use the. When we are talking about one thing in general, we use a or an.

Think of the sky during the day.

  • I saw the Sun

Think of the sky at night. We see one moon and millions of stars. So normally we would say:

  • I saw the moon last night.

  • I saw a star last night.

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