My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary by Jesse Owens
My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary About the Author
Jesse Owens also known by name of James Cleveland Owens, (12 September 1913 – 31 March 1980), was an American track and field athlete who set a world record in the running broad jump which stood for 25 years and who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. It is the four Olympic victories that were a blow to Adolf Hitler’s intention to use the games to demonstrate Aryan superiority. Hitler refused to shake hands with Owens because he was an African American.
My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary
‘My Greatest Olympic Prize’ is a famous memoir by the well-known American Athlete, Jesse Owens. He was a member of the American team that went to Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games. In this story, he shares his unforgettable experience during the games. Adolf Hitler was then the ruler of Germany. He was an ardent racist. He believed in the supremacy of the ‘Aryan race’. He thought that his German athletes belonged to a master race and they would perform better than the others.
Jesse Owens was a Negro. He nurtured a belief to disapprove Hitler’s theory and with this determination he went to Berlin. He trained himself for six years for these Olympics. The previous year he had already made a record in long jump. So he was pretty confident to win the medal.
An angry athlete commits mistakes. So did Jesse. He put a very bad performance during the trials. But the German athlete Luz Long, performed well and qualified for the finals. This made Jesse all the more upset. Though Luz is his opponent player but surprisingly he helps Jesse to qualify for the finals. He suggests to draw a line behind the take off board and then to jump.
In the finals, though Luz managed to break his own record but it was Jesse who won the gold medal by jumping 26 feet 5-5/16 inches. Despite Hitler’s glaring at them, Luz shook hands with Jesse and congratulated him.
Jesse recollects what Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of Olympic Games, said that the true spirit of Olympic is not winning but taking part and fighting well. Luz did not win but set up a good Olympic spirit. Thus, for Jesse Owens, the greatest Olympic prize is not the gold medal but his true and noble friendship with Luz Long.
My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary Word Meanings :
1. Sophomore : A student in the second year of high school or college
2. Startled : Surprised
3. Leaped : Jumped
4. Disgustedly : Distastefully
5. Slang : Language peculiar to a particular group of people
6. Chiseled : Having an attractive well formed shape
7. Ebb out : Decline
8. Glared : To look angrily at someone
9. Epitome : A perfect example
My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary Questions and Answers
How does Luz Long’s behaviour prime the words of ‘Coubertin’?
Pierre de Coubertin was the Frenchman whose efforts were responsible for the revival of the Modern Olympic Games in 1896. He believed that the most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. And Luz Long seems to be the epitome of the very principles of Olympics and true sportsmanship.
He saw a fellow sportsman, Owens in trouble and worried, he extendedhis hand to help him.Instead of considering him his staunch opponent and without paying heed to Hitler’s anger, he became friendly with Owens. He not only guided Owens to qualify for the trials, but also was the first to congratulate him heartily on his success.
Why does Jesse Owens call his Olympic Prize as the’greatest’?
Jesse Owens was a famous American athlete. He was a member of the American team that went to Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games. Adolf Hittler was then the ruler of Germany. He was a staunch racist. He claimed the supremacy of the ‘Aryan race’, which he considered as the ‘master race’. While all other belonged to the ‘slave race’. Jesse was a Negro.
He wanted to disprove the foolish theory of Aryan Superiority with this determination, he went to Berlin. His mind is filled with winning the Olympic Gold. Nothing could shake his spirits. He had successfully trained, sweated and disciplined himself for six years, focusing on the games. He had already set the world record of 26 feet 8-1/4 inches.
But when Jesse went to the trials of the Long Jump event of the Olympic Games, Luz Long, the tall German athlete, whom Hitler had secretly kept for the final event, unnerved Jesse. He became under confident and fouled in the first two attempts of the trial. Luz Long, noticing a world record holder pathetically fouling, understood the reason behind it. Without the hesitation, despite being an opponent, he extends an arm of friendship to Owens.
He gave him a genuinely friendly advice to draw a line a few inches from the take off board to avoid over¬stepping and fouling. Owens took his advice and was able to qualify with a clear mind. In the finals, Luz long broke his past record in long jump. However, it is Jesse Owens who won the gold medal by jumping 26-feet 5, 5/16 inches.
Luz Long was the first person to congratulate Jesse, though Hitler glared at both of them. At the moment, Jesse Owens felt that the friend that he has found in Luz Long is more significant than the gold medal he won. The new and noble friendship with Luz seemed more precious to him than the ‘Greatest’ medal he received in the Olympics.
My Greatest Olympic Prize Summary Extract Based Questions
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“Everyone kind of expected me to win that Olympic event hands down.”
(i) Who is ‘me’ in the above extract? Why does everyone expect him to win?
(ii) Why were nationalistic feelings running high during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games?
(iii) What surprise confronts Jesse when he reaches there? Who had maintained this surprise and why?
(iv) What is the reason behind such bitter thoughts that arise in Jesse’s mind? Who offers Jesse a firm hand shake? What friendly advice does this person offer?
(v) What character traits of Luz Long are described here which truly need admiration?
(i) ‘Me’ refers to the athlete ‘Jesse Owens’, who was participating in the Broad Jump competition in the Olympic Games of 1936.
Everyone expected him to win because an year ago, as a sophomore at Ohio State University, he had set the world record of 26 feet 8-1/4 inches. He had also trained and disciplined himself for 6 years.
(ii) At that time Adolf Hitler stuck to Aryan Superiority theory. He believed that his German athletes belonged to a ‘master race’ and they would perform better than other participants in the 1936 Olympics, Berlin. So, the nationalistic feeling ran high then.
(iii) As Jessie walks to the broad jump pit, he is surprised to see a tall German practising in the 26 foot range. He was not expecting such a strong competitor.It was Hitler who had secretly nurtured a very strong German athlete and kept him hidden until the final days to petrify other athletes. Hitler would have been fully aware that an angry athlete makes mistakes so that the other athletes would get nervous and make mistakes, providing more chance to his German athlete to win and prove the ‘Aryan Superiority Theory’ true.
(iv) The presence of Luz Long, the tall German athlete unnerved Jesse’s confidence. He was filled with anger and frustration and fouled badly in the first two attempts of the trial. This makes him bitter. The tall blue-eyed German broad jumper Luz Long approached Jesse and offered a firm hand shake. Luz gave him a genuinely friendly advice to draw a line a few inches from the take off board to avoid over stepping and consequently fouling.
(v) As described by Jesse, Luz Long had a lean, muscular built, clear blue eyes, blond hair and extremely handsome and crafted face. His offering good counsel to Jesse, proved that he was a true sportsman and an amazing human being. He was a strong and competent athlete too.
Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“I realized then, too, that Luz was the epitome of what Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, must have in mind”
(i) Does Owen feel obliged with Luz’s help and behaviour?
(ii) What is the value of Luz’s friendship in his eyes?
(iii) What does Hitler glare at and Why?
(iv) What had Pierre de Coubertin said? Quote the lines.
(v) How does Luz prove himself to be an epitome of Pierre’s words?
(i) Yes, Owen felt obliged to Luz as he went to thank Luz for the crucial tips he had given to Owen which helped him to qualify for the finals. They spent some time together, paving a way for a new and sincere friendship.
(ii) Owen’s dearly values his friendship with Luz as he says that one could melt down all the gold medals and cups he had but it could not equal the plating on the 24-carat friendship he felt for Luz Long.
(iii) Hitler glared at Luz Long shaking hands with Jesse to congratulate him on his victory. He was angry, firstly, due to the defeat of his athlete and secondly, his defeated athlete was congratulating his opponent and thus, breaking Hitler’s over-confidence.
(iv) Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games said, “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
(v) When Luz Long noticed a world record holder pathetically fouling, he understood the reason behind it. In spite of Owens being his opponent, Luz approached him and advised him genuinely. Though this could have angered his leader, yet he showed true sportsmanship. Luz even congratulated Owens openly on his victory, unbothered by Hitler’s glares, and without a tinge of jealousy.Thus, Long was the epitome of the message of Coubertin that, not winning but taking part in Olympics is more important.