Olympic Stories

The Carl Lewis Olympic Story

The Carl Lewis Olympic StoryCarl Lewis is one of the greatest athletes in the world. He is known for his world records in running as well as his records in the long jump. Carl Lewis was born in Birmingham though he was actually brought up in Willingboro, New Jersey.

Carl Lewis started participating in long jump events when he was just 13 years old. Carl also started to perform in sprinting events at a young age as he had the capability of high sprinting speeds. Eventually Lewis was selected for the U.S. Olympic team, but America boycotted the games in Moscow and as a result, Lewis’s debut was postponed.

Lewis received the James E. Sullivan Award for the best athlete in 1981 and in the World Championships in 1983, he made his mark by winning in the 100m, long jump and the 4 x 100m relay events. Carl Lewis then went on to become the undisputable champion in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

He won 4 titles in all including the 200m race and he also tied Jesse Owens’ record which was set back in 1936. He repeated the spectacular performance of 1983 in Rome in 1987, and then in the 1988 Seoul Olympics he went on to win 4 more golds.

In this last competition he may have had a good challenger in Ben Johnson but Ben was disqualified for doping and this cleared the field for Lewis. Carl himself had failed a dope test, but he was cleared by the IAAF. He was however beaten by Joe DeLoach in the 200m sprint event and in the 4 x 100m relay event the U.S. team was disqualified in the heats where Lewis was not even able to run due to bad exchange of the baton by the other players. This was quite the electrifying year for all those involved in the Olympics.

Then came the season of 1991. Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell dominated all the sprinting events. In the races before the World Championships in Japan, Burrell broke Carl Lewis’s record as he finished 100 m in 9.90s but in the World Championships, Carl paid him back by breaking the record of 9.90s in 9.86s.

After 1991, Lewis’s career in the sprinting events continued to fade off, but he was still the best in the long jump events. However, his compatriot, Mike Powell won the long jump event in Tokyo, beating him and also breaking Bob Beamon’s record from 1968. In 1992, Carl Lewis was set for another tough dual with Beamon. But this time it was Lewis who took home the honors of winning.

After this event, Carl Lewis was unable to win any other major events during those games. But in 1996, at the age of 35 years, he again made a comeback by winning the long jump event and thus became the only athlete in the world winning this particular event 4 consecutive times. He was the third Olympian to achieve the record after Al Oerter for discus throw and Paul Elvström for yachting.

In 1987, Carl Lewis joined music and was part of the band called “Break it Up.” However his career in the music field did not take up very well. Lewis retired after the Atlanta Olympics and is now an actor. Today he lives in Los Angeles, California.

Lewis proved to very outspoken fellow and in 2003, he admitted that he had resorted to taking banned substances on 3 occasions in the 1988 Olympic trials. He claimed that he had ingested the banned substances as well as some herbal supplements. He was however allowed to compete in the Seoul Olympics, as the Olympic committee ruled that the intake of stimulants by him was inadvertent and not performance enhancing. In the Seoul Olympics he won the 100m gold after Ben Johnson was disqualified for taking drugs that did affect his performance.

All in all Carl Lewis is one of the most world renowned Olympians of all time. While he did cause a stir he will always be remembered for his hard work and perseverance.

Career Highlights
  • 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – Gold
  • 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games – Gold (2)
  • 1988 Seoul Olympic Games – Gold (2), Silver
  • 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games – Gold (4)
  • World Championships – Gold (1991 – 2 ,1987 – 3,1983 – 3), Silver (1991), Bronze (1993)

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