For the London 2012 Olympics I was privileged enough to carry the Olympic Torch and the experience really encouraged my love of sports. That’ll definitely be a little piece of my personal history, but the three sports men I’m highlighting this week for “Then and Now” will go down in record books on a worldwide level for their sporting achievements.
Jesse Owens was the most successful athlete in the 1936 Olympics, winning gold medals for the 100m and 200m sprints, contribution to the 4x100m relay and long jump. A well documented story tells that Adolf Hitler, unimpressed with Jesse’s achievements because of his race, refused to present Jesse with his medals. Furthermore Owens was subjected to a similar ignorance when he returned to the US, his home country, when President Roosevelt didn’t congratulate Owens on his achievements.
Today’s fastest man on Earth is athlete Usain Bolt who, in 2009, ran the 100m sprint in just 9.58 seconds. Bolt’s reception hugely contrasts that of Owens’ with presidents, prime ministers, and members of the public lining up across the world just be within touching distance of him.
When Somali-born Mo Farah moved to the UK at the age of 8 he barely spoke English. Unable to strive academically because of language barriers he excelled in sports with a particular passion for football, but due to the speed he displayed on the pitch he was encouraged to take up track events. Farah is currently the Olympic and world champion for the 10,000 metre run.
With each and every record set comes a new challenge and I think we’ll be celebrating Bolt and Farah’s talents for years to come.