Among all the sports events in the Olympics, the majority of the spectators prefer to watch the athletics. Out of these, sprints have become the most popular among them. Short distance running events like 100, 200 and 400 meters events are considered sprints. In the distant past, American racing champions dominated those events. In recent times, the Jamaicans have usurped that dominance from the United States. Therefore, the Americans have to fight to regain the pride they lost at the Olympics this year. In such an environment, this article is about four of the greatest short-distance runners in Olympic history.
04. Jesse Owens (USA)
The 1936 Olympic Games were held in Berlin, Germany. At the time, the world record in the men’s 100m and long jump was set by Jesse Owens. So the audience was more eager to see his performance in the Olympics. Jesse Owens won gold medals in both the 100m and 200m events, fulfilling everyone’s expectations. Owens also set a new world record in the 200m event completing it in just 20.7 seconds. He also won gold medals in the long jump and 4 × 100-meter sprint relay. In the 4 × 100-meter relay event, the USA was able to set a world record completing it in just 39.8 seconds.
Because Owens was a African-American Black, German leader at that time, Adolf Hitler, was reluctant to acknowledge his victory. Even the International Olympic Committee had to intervene to defuse the crisis. Franklin D. Roosevelt, then president of the United States, also disliked the idea of equal rights to the whites and the blacks. So not only did Jesse Owens not receive an invitation to come to the White House, he also did not receive any congratulatory message from the President.
Anyway, black Americans treated Jesse Owens as a national hero. The state of Ivory Coast on the African continent also named a main street in their capital city after Jesse Owens for honoring his outstanding athleticism. Jesse Owens, who excelled at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, has not had the opportunity to compete in any Olympics since. The reason for this was that the Olympics were not held in 1940 and 1944 due to the effects of World War II. In a way, if the Olympics had been held as usual, Owens’ name would have been one of the highest gold medalists in Olympic history.
03. Michael Johnson (USA)
Michael Johnson, one of the best sprinters the world has ever produced, born in the United States, excelled in the 200 and 400 meters. The superstar first competed in the Olympics in 1992. He then competed in the men’s 200 m event and men’s 4 × 400 m relay at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. A year earlier, Johnson had won a gold medal in the 200 m at the World Athletics Championships in Japan. As a result, many speculated that Johnson would win the 200-meter event at the 1992 Olympics.
The day before the 200m semi-finals, Johnson suffered a stomach ache from a Spanish meal he had eaten. As a result, Johnson, who was in poor health and competed in the 200 m semi-finals, did not qualify for the finals. He lost the gold medal in the 200 m but won the gold medal in the men’s 4 × 400 m relay event.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympics became the most memorable sports event in Michael Johnson’s Olympic career. He won gold medals in both the 200m and 400m events that day. Michael Johnson is the only athlete in 125 years of Olympic history to have won gold medals in both the 200 and 400 meters at the same Olympics. Johnson set a world record in the 200m in 19.32 seconds and set an Olympic record in the 400m in 43.49 seconds, at that time. Michael Johnson won a gold medal in the 400 meters at the Sydney Olympics which was held 4 years after the Atlanta Olympics.
02. Carl Lewis (USA)
Carl Lewis, nicknamed the Black Diamond of America in the 80s and 90s, was a Super Star Olympic Sprinter. Carl Lewis, who made his Olympic debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, thrilled American fans by winning gold medals in both the 100 and 200 meters (After the 1968 Gold medal in the 100m event, Americans were unable to dominate in the 100m sprint event for 16 years)
Carl set a new Olympic record (At that time) in the 200 meters event by finishing it in just 19.80 seconds. In addition, Lewis, who also won gold medals in the men’s 4 ×100 m relay event and long jump events. In short, he won 4 gold medals in that Los Angeles Olympics. These amazing performances quickly caught the attention of the sports world.
Lewis also competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, four years after the 1984 Olympics. There, he lost to his countryman Joe DeLock in the 200 m event and had to settle with a silver medal. Anyway, Lewis overcame the humiliation of being lost and won the gold medal in the 100 m with a world record.
The 100 m event was a controversial one at that Olympic. The world champion at that time, Ben Johnson of Canada, defeated defending Olympic champion Carl Lewis of the United States in a world record time of 9.79. Anyway, two days later, Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and world record by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after he was convicted of using drugs. The gold medal and the world record were then awarded to the original silver medalist Lewis, who had run the event in 9.92 seconds. Lewis also won a gold medal in the long jump event at the Seoul Olympics.
Carl Lewis has not competed in any solo sprint events at the two subsequent Olympics since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. There he won three gold medals in the long jump and men’s 4 ×100 m relay events. During his 1984-1996 Olympic career, Carl Lewis won nine gold medals and one silver medal. It is still the highest number of gold medals won by an American Athlete at the Olympics.
(The record for most number of medals (23 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze) won by an American at the Olympics is under the name of Michael Phepls)
01. Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
The Jamaican athletes were able to snatch the dominance of the sprint events from the Americans after the 2004 Olympics. (Justin Gatlin was the last American to win the 100 m event at the Olympics ; 2004 Athens Olympics)
It was Usain Bolt who took the lead in breaking the American Sprint events dominance. Bolt, who made his debut at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recorded two revolutionary victories. Bolt set two world records and won the 100m and 200m events, which stunned the US sprint champions at the time. Bolt set a new world record of 9.69 seconds in the 100 meters and 19.30 seconds in the 200 meters. Bolt and his team set a world record and won the men’s 4 ×100 m relay event. Nesta Carter was later convicted of a banned doping charge and the Jamaicans lost that gold medal.
Usain Bolt, who once again excelled at the 2012 London Olympics, easily won gold medals in the 100 meter and 200 meter events. Bolt set a new Olympic record in the 100 meters just finishing it in 9.63 seconds. With a world record, Bolt and his team also won the men’s 4 ×100 m relay event. Similarly, at the 2016 Rio Olympics he continued to show his amazing skills and won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and men’s 4 ×100 m relay events.
Usain Bolt has won gold medals in the men’s 100m and 200m events at three consecutive Olympic Games. It is considered a unique record in the history of the Olympics. The superstar has won six gold medals in sprint events alone. Accordingly, he has become the athlete who has won the most number of gold medals in short distance events (Sprints) in the history of the Olympics. As a result, Usain Bolt is widely considered as the greatest sprinter of all time.