One of the most memorable moments of athletics history will be recalled at the Berlin world championships when the granddaughter of American Jesse Owens and the son of German Luz Long present medals in the Olympic stadium.
Black sprinter Owens, won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics, in Nazi Germany, beating Long in the long jump. Marlene Dortch, one of Owens’ granddaughters, and Long’s son Kai will present the medals in the long jump during the championships which are to be held from August 15-23.
“This will be my first opportunity to go to Berlin and I am very excited to be at the stadium where my grandfather competed and just to be able to be a part of such a great moment and honor for me and my family,” said Dortch during a teleconference on Wednesday.
“The German people have always been so warm and welcoming to my family and I am just anticipating a great time, wonderful experience and great track meet as well,” she added.
At the 1936 Games, Owens fouled his first two attempts in long jump qualifying and was facing elimination when Long sat with him giving him advice on his run up.
After the talk, captured by photographers, Owens went on to win the event with Long taking silver in front of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“These championships provide a rare opportunity to honor the bond of international friendship formed between Mr Owens and Mr Long,” IAAF President Lamine Diack said in a statement. “It is our earnest hope that the power of athletics to unite the world in friendship can be displayed once again in Berlin during these world championships,” he added.
Owens also won gold in the 100, 200 and the 4x100 meters relay during the Berlin Games. He died in 1980. The US team will also honor Owens by wearing his initials on their uniforms during the championships.
“Few athletes mean more to our sport’s international heritage than Mr Owens, and it is our honor to assist in bringing the Owens and Long families together again,” said USA Track and Field CEO and general secretary Doug Logan.