ChapterMy Greatest Olympic Prize

”My Greatest Olympic Prize” is an autobiographical account by Jesse Owens, recounting his experience at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and his unexpected friendship with German long jumper Luz Long.

Meet the Author

  • Jesse Owens was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist.
  • Born: September 12, 1913
  • Place of Birth: Oakville, Alabama, U.S.A
  • Died: March 31, 1980
  • Best Known For: American track-and-field athlete who set a world record in the running broad jump and won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Athlete ready for a race
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Summary of the Chapter

This chapter is an autobiographical anecdote narrated by Jesse Owens, recounting his experience at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship that beats the odds set by society.

The story begins with Jesse Owens, an African-American athlete, arriving at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He is determined to compete and excel, particularly under the intense pressure of Nazi Germany's racial ideology, which held up Aryan superiority.

But during the long jump trials, Owens struggles with his performance, faltering in his initial attempts. This is a critical moment where he faces not just physical challenges but also battles against the psychological pressure of the political environment and his own expectations.

An angry athlete is an athlete who will make mistakes, as any coach will tell you. I was no exception.

While Owens was going through this, Luz Long, a German athlete, stepped forward to offer Owens advice and support. This act of sportsmanship overcomes the prevailing racial ideologies and the competitive nature of the Olympics. Luz Long suggests that he should draw the take-off line a bit behind than usual to qualify for tomorrow. Long's gesture of helping Owens, even potentially at the cost of his own victory, is a significant turning point in the story.

Taking Long's advice, Owens adjusts his approach and successfully qualifies for the finals. When Owens visits Long to thank him, they spend the night talking about shared interests. They form a real friendship at the end of the night.

Owens wins the gold medal in the finals, but the story emphasises that his greatest prize is not the medal itself. Instead, it is the friendship and mutual respect he develops with Long. It lasts beyond the competition and becomes a symbol of unity and human decency.

You can melt down all the gold medals and cups I have, and they couldn't be a plating on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment.

The story powerfully demonstrates how sports can transcend political and racial barriers. Amidst the backdrop of Nazi Germany's racial supremacy propaganda, the bond formed between Jesse Owens, an African-American, and Luz Long, a German, defies the era's racial and political tensions. Their sportsmanship goes beyond mere competition; it becomes a symbol of shared humanity, challenging the divisive ideologies of the time.

Owens' journey in the story highlights the themes of resilience and determination. Facing the immense pressure of competing in an environment charged with racial hostility and the world watching, Owens' ability to focus and excel becomes a powerful narrative. His internal battle and eventual triumph are a testament to the human spirit's capacity to overcome challenges and prejudices.

Beyond the glory of winning gold medals, the story delves into what constitutes a true achievement. For Owens, the friendship he forms with Long and the personal growth he experiences are of greater value than the medals themselves. This theme reflects on the idea that sometimes the greatest rewards in life are intangible and come from unexpected sources.

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My Greatest Olympic Prize Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

The main theme is the triumph of friendship and sportsmanship over racial and political divides. The chapter symbolises unity, resilience, and the power of human connection in adversity.

The 1936 Olympics had a lasting impact on Owen's life as it gave him a lifelong friend. Owens' greatest prize was his friendship with Luz Long, beyond any medals won.

Owens, an African-American, excels in the Olympics, disproving Nazi beliefs of Aryan superiority. Luz Long was a German athlete who befriended Owens, embodying true sportsmanship and humanity.