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Carl Lewis, the wannabe who became a legend

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Carl Lewis, the wannabe who became a legend

The American athlete made his dream come true in Los Angeles ’84 of matching the four medals won by his compatriot Jesse Owens in Berlin ’36 (100m, 200m, length and 4×100)

Although the social origins of both were very different, Frederick Carlton Lewis, Carl Lewis, share with Jesse owens the state of birth (Alabama) and, above all, the athletic specialties: 100 and 200 meters, and long jump. It was not strange, then, that, since he began to stand out, he was compared to myth, to the point of making him little less than his reincarnation. This always flattered and stimulated Lewis, but it also tired him by feeling that a part of his own personality was being denied him to make him assume, inherited, a prolongation of Owens’.

It was inevitable that the great appeal of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games would revolve around Carl’s challenge to match Jesse’s four golds (100 meters, 200, length and 4×100) in Berlin in 1936. Lewis He was an Olympic rookie. In 1980, in the selection “trials” for the Moscow Games, at the age of 19, he had qualified second in the long jump. In addition, his fourth place in the 100 meters ensured his place in the relay team. The Western boycott of the Games by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan shattered their young illusions.

In Los Angeles Lewis was at the peak of his fame and triumphs. A year earlier he had won three golds at the first World Championship, held in Helsinki. In California, a kind of preview of immortality awaited him. His relationship with Owens was strengthened in the face of the press and the public when one of the best kept secrets by the Organizing Committee, the identity of the reliever who entered the stadium with the torch, was revealed. It was Gina hemphilHe, Jesse’s granddaughter. The woman handed the flame to Rafer johnson, gold in the decathlon of Rome60, which lit the cauldron, and the Games began.

The 100-meter final was scheduled for August 4, a day later than Owens’s in 1936. Lewis agreed to it comfortably. Even in the second round, his mark of 10.04 became the best low-altitude record in Olympic history.

His dad’s death

In the final, Carl, as usual, took, after the first supports, to get into action. Up to 80 meters he was in the lead, on 5th street, his compatriot Sam graddy, to which the opposite happens and who, according to his words, came to think that victory awaited him 20 meters further. Then, on 7th street, a cyclone appeared 45 km away. per hour. Lewis won (9.99) ahead of Graddy (10.19) with the biggest difference in the history of the Olympic finals: eight feet.

In the personal and national apotheosis of ‘King Carl’, the ‘Son of the Wind’, nobody paid much attention to the third place, a robust and surly Canadian named Ben johnson. Four years later, in Sel’88, both star in a final for eternity whose details are known. Just over a year earlier, Carl’s father had passed away. His son buried him with the Los Angeles 100-meter gold medal.