Carl Lewis : Profile of an Olympic legend

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Carl Lewis, holder of nine gold medals, was born in Alabama in 1961 and was introduced to athletics at an early age by his parents who were members of a local track club and also veterans of the civil rights movement.

From age 15, Carl Lewis’ athletic prowess was unstoppable, earning him records through high school. After his university studies, he made the United States’ selection to the Moscow Olympic games, in 1980, which was boycotted by the US.

At the 1984 Olympics he was compared to Jesse Owens, another African American who defied Hitler’s pure white supremacist ideologies in 1936, after he collected four gold medals.

Carl Lewis’ disciplines included, 100 metres, 200 metres, 4 x 100 metre relay and Long Jump.

At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, Carl Lewis was awarded gold after his rival Ben Johnson, who finished the 100 metre dash in a record 9.79 seconds, was sent home for failing a doping test. Carl Lewis was awarded world record for running the 100 metres at 9.93 seconds.

Mr. Lewis defied age at the world championships in Tokyo, 1991, when he won and set a new 100 metre world record time of 9.86 seconds. The next year, at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games he outjumped Mike Powell, a new long jump rival who had broken his previous record, by jumping 8.67 metres and winning by a 3 centimetre margin.

After barely qualifying for the 1996 games in Atlanta, he shocked the world again when he jumped to gold, making him a three time undefeated Olympic champion in 12 years.

In 1999, he was named as the male “athlete of the century” by the International Association of Athletics Federations. Carl Lewis retired from athletics in 1997.

Beijing Olympics 2008  The 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China takes place between August 8 and 24. This dossier focuses on the hopes, aspirations, and achievements of athletes from the African continent.
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