A true hero

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2004

Harold Keller – Get High on Life

Berlin was the site of the 1936 Olympics. Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany and the Olympics were to be used to show the rest of the world that the Germans were a superhuman race.

Most people can recall a young black man by the name of Jesse Owens. He represented America and won four gold medals. Lutz Long, representing Germany, has long been forgotten. He never won a gold medal in 1936, but in my opinion, he was one of the real heroes. What did he do that was so great? He let Jesse use his towe. Don’t laugh. It was one of the greatest acts of love ever in any sporting event.

Now for the of the story –

Jesse Owens was a tremendous athlete. His speciality in track and field was the long jump. The day before the long jump, Jesse won two gold medals, Jesse won two gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter events.

I’m sure Jesse was very confident as he prepared for his speciality, the long jump. Dressed in his sweat clothes, he halfheartedly took a jump. He thought it was a practice jump, but the judges counted it as his first qualifying attempt. This meant that Jesse only had two jumps left. He was upset and on the second attempt, he overcompensated and stepped on the foul line. “Foul,” the judges charged. I’m sure Jesse felt a little pressure having only one more jump to qualify.

Lutz Long was considered the only challenge to Jesse in this event. He walked over to Jesse, introduced himself and said, “I have a suggestion. Let me put my towel in front of the foul line and if you use that as your jump-off point, you will not foul.” Jesse agreed.

A little later, Jesse Owens came roaring down the runway and leaped two feet more than the distance to qualify. He eventually won the gold and Lutz Long came out second. The two men walked off the field, arm in arm.

Yes, Jesse Owens was an American hero and rightfully so. He lived a distinguished life and was a credit to his country, the sports world, and his race. He died in 1980.

Lutz Long was killed while fighting for Germany in World War II.

The Olympics are held every four years. We’ve had many since 1936. Great athletes throughout the world continue to excel and set new records. The only performance that has not been equaled is that of Lutz Long. Jesse Owens said throughout his life that he could not have won, had the German champion not come to his aid.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational organization. Call 652-8477, or write to P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084.