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The name stuck, and he was known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.

During this period, Owens realized that he had a passion for running.

In 1999 he was on the six-man shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century.

Owens was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys, born to Henry Cleveland Owens (a sharecropper) and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville, Alabama, on September 12, 1913. C., as he was called, was nine years old when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for better opportunities, as part of the Great Migration, when 1.5 million African Americans left the segregated South.

In the months prior to the Games, the movement in favor of a boycott gained momentum.

Owens was convinced by the NAACP to declare "If there are minorities in Germany who are being discriminated against, the United States should withdraw from the 1936 Olympics." Yet Owens and others eventually took part after Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee branded the advocates of a boycott as "un-American agitators".

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James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 Games.

On August 5, he won the 200 m sprint with a time of 20.7 s, defeating teammate Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson).

On August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4 × 100 m sprint relay when head coach Lawson Robertson replaced Jewish-American sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller with Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, Owens had initially protested the last-minute switch, but assistant coach Dean Cromwell said to him, "You'll do as you are told." Jesse Owens' record-breaking performance of four gold medals was not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the Soviet-boycotted 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Henri de Baillet-Latour, the President of the International Olympic Committee, insisted that Hitler greet every medalist or none at all.

Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations.

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