Ohio State University star track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens was inducted into the Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame Monday night. It’s the inaugural class established by The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
Owens, nicknamed the “Buckeye Bullet,” competed on the Ohio State varsity track and field team in 1935 and 1936. In his first year of competition, Owens became the first athlete to win four individual NCAA championships in a single season and repeated the feat in the 1936 season. The eight individual NCAA championships stand as a record to this day.
“The Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame is intended to acknowledge the great athletes who have made collegiate track and field and cross country such incredible sports,” said Sam Seemes, CEO of the USTFCCCA. “Not only do we have a large queue of past athletes that are worthy of enshrinement into this hall of fame, we also recognize a vital responsibility in producing first-class presentations to properly commemorate their accomplishments”
At the Big Ten Championships on May 25, 1935, Owens won five events in 45 minutes, setting five world records along the way.
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At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Owens, an African American, won four gold medals in front of Adolf Hitler.
Owens won the 100 meters in 10.30 seconds, the 200 meters in 20.70 seconds, the 4×100 meters relay and the long jump.
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Owens died March 31, 1980, at the age of 66. Members of his family were present at his induction Monday night.
In order to be selected into the first class, male athletes were required to have competed collegiately prior to 2000, and women were required to have competed in college before 2010.
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“I’m proud that we’re stepping forward to preserve our history,” added USTFCCCA President Leroy Burrell, in his 23rd year as head coach of track and field at the University of Houston. “Many of the coaches in our association agree that a collegiate athlete hall of fame is long overdue to recognize the athletes who have provided us with countless unforgettable moments.”