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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

May 25- Jesse Owens Breaks 4 World Records in a span of 45 Minutes in 1935

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

1935- On this day in Sports history in 1935, Jesse Owens completed what became known as “The Greatest 45 Minutes in Sport”. It is known to be one of the best athletic accomplishments in history. Jesse Owens set four World Records in 45 minutes. He averaged a World Record every 11 minutes at the Big Ten track meet at the University of Michigan. It’s even more amazing that the Ohio State star had an injury and the coach was considering not letting him compete. Owens had fallen down some stairs at Ohio State five days before the meet which gave him some severe lower back pain. The plan was to just see how he felt after each event to decide if he would compete in the next one. It sure ended up being the right choice. Owen’s incredible feat started at 3:15pm with the 100 yard dash. He tied the world record in that race with a time of 9.4 seconds. At 3:25 he competed in the long jump where he broke the world record with a jump of 26 feet 8¼ in. At 3:34, Owens broke the 220 yard dash world record with a time of 20.3 seconds. Lastly, at 4:00, Owens broke the 220 low hurdles world record by becoming the first man to run it under 23 seconds. He completed the race in 22.6 seconds.

Today, all of Owen’s world records have been beat, but the incredible accomplishment of breaking four world records in 45 minutes lives on. It’s an accomplishment that competes with Wilt Chamberlain's 100 point game as the best single day athletic performance. Many of his world record times would compete with today’s Olympians even though Owens was running on a dirt track and had no starting blocks.

Jesse Owens was also the star in another monumental athletic event at the 1936 Olympic Games. One year after breaking four world records at the Big Ten track meet, Owens entered into the Olympics. The Games were being held in Nazi Germany that year and Adolf Hitler hoped to prove his theory of Aryan racial superiority. The African-American, who was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, proved his dominance by winning four gold medals. Jesse Owens became a national hero from these athletic accomplishments. President Eisenhower named him “An ambassador of Sport” and President Ford awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Although Jesse Owens’ records have all been broken and many athletes have won more Olympic medals than he did, his historic accomplishment of setting four world records in 45 minutes remains unmatched. It is shown just how historic the accomplishment was by the University of Michigan still displaying a plaque outside their field that celebrates “The Greatest 45 Minutes in Sport” by an Ohio State athlete.

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Also check out yesterday’s post! On May 24, Maya Moore became the first WNBA player to score 30 points in 4 consecutive games.


Staff, SI. “The Greatest 45 Minutes in Sports History.” Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, 24 May 2010

“Jesse Owens and the Greatest 45 Minutes in Sport.” International Olympic Committee, IOC, 11 Apr. 2017

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