On this day in 1996, track and field legend Carl Lewis wins his fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in the long jump. It was the ninth and final Olympic gold of his storied career.
Frederick Carlton Lewis was born July 11, 1961, in Birmingham, Alabama, and raised in a middle-class community in New Jersey. As a teenager, Lewis met Olympic champion Jesse Owens, who became his hero. He participated in track and field, but was undersized until high school, when he grew the long legs that help a sprinter cover ground and underwent a huge growth spurt that forced him to walk with crutches for three months while he fine-tuned his gait. Once fully developed at 6 feet 2 inches tall, Lewis set a national high school record in the long jump with a 26-foot-8-inch leap.
After a standout career at the University of Houston, Lewis won the 100 meters, 200 meters and the long jump at the 1983 National Championships, and entered the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as the top-ranked sprinter in the world. There, he met his goal of four gold medals, winning the long jump, the 100 meters, the 200 meters and anchoring the victorious U.S. team in the 4 x 100 meter relay.
The win at Atlanta made Lewis the first Olympian since American discus thrower Al Oerter to win the same event four times. His career is considered among the greatest in track and field history.