Jesse Owens was an American track and field athlete who won four Olympic gold medals in the 1936 Games and set a long jump world record that stood for 25 years. He was regarded in his lifetime as arguably the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.
Born September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama, Owens’ athletic career began in high school in 1933. Before qualifying and competing in the 1936 Olympics, he equaled one world record and broke three others while competing for Ohio State University.
As the most successful athlete at the 1936 Olympic games, Owens single-handedly destroyed Adolf Hitler’s myth that his Aryan athletes were superior to black competitors.
In honor of Owen’s accomplishments, the Jesse Owens Award was named after him to reward the year’s best track and field athlete in USA Track and Field. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1990.
Besides, ESPN ranked Owens as the sixth greatest North American athlete of the 20th century and the highest-ranked in his sport. And in 1999, he was on the six-man short-list for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Century.
Jesse Owens died of lung cancer in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1980. In celebration of his life and legacy, below is our collection of inspiring and motivational Jesse Owens quotes.
Jesse Owens Quotes Celebrating Aspirations and Success
2. “Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing it.” – Jesse Owens
3. “If you don’t try to win you might as well hold the Olympics in somebody’s back yard. The thrill of competing carries with it the thrill of a gold medal. One wants to win to prove himself the best.” – Jesse Owens
4. “One chance is all you need.” – Jesse Owens
5. “The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.” – Jesse Owens
6. “The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness.” – Jesse Owens
7. “Only by God’s grace have I made it to see today and only by God’s grace will I ever see tomorrow.” – Jesse Owens
8. “The road to the Olympics, leads to no city, no country. It goes far beyond New York or Moscow, ancient Greece or Nazi Germany. The road to the Olympics leads — in the end — to the best within us.” – Jesse Owens
9. “It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it’s close.” – Jesse Owens
10. “To me, we must learn to spell the word RESPECT. We must respect the rights and properties of our fellowman. And then learn to play the game of life, as well as the game of athletics, according to the rules of society. If you can take that and put it into practice in the community in which you live, then, to me you have won the greatest championship.” – Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens quotes on success and greatness
11. “In America anyone can still become someone.” – Jesse Owens
12. “Running is real. It’s all not and woe, hard as diamond. It makes you weary beyond comprehension, but it also makes you free.” – Jesse Owens
13. “The only victory that counts is the one over Yourself.” – Jesse Owens
14. “I decided I wasn’t going to come down. I was going to fly. I was going to stay up in the air forever.” – Jesse Owens
15. “The people come out to see you perform and you’ve got to give them the best you have within you.” – Jesse Owens
16. “In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?” – Jesse Owens
17. “There is something that can happen to every athlete and every human being; the instinct to slack off, to give in to pain, to give less than your best; the instinct to hope you can win through luck or through your opponent not doing his best, instead of going to the limit and past your limit where victory is always found. Defeating those negative instincts that are out to defeat us, is the difference between winning and losing – and we all face that battle every day.” – Jesse Owens
18. “Championships are mythical. The real champions are those who live through what they are taught in their homes and churches. The attitude that ‘We’ve got to win’ in sports must be changed. Teach your youngsters, who are the future hope of America, the importance of love, respect, dedication, determination, self-sacrifice, self-discipline and good attitude. That’s the road up the ladder to the championships.” – Jesse Owens
19. “I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” – Jesse Owens
20. “One day or another every athlete feels like taking it easy. He stops trying to exceed his limits, and thinks he can keep winning because of his lucky star, or the bad luck of his opponents. You must overcome this negative instinct, which affects all of us, and which is the only difference between the person who wins a race, and those who lose. This is the battle you have to fight every day of your life.” – Jesse Owens
Which of these Jesse Owens quotes was your favorite?
The first person ever to win four gold medals at one time in Olympic track history, Jesse Owens is a lasting legend. He is still seen as a national hero today, many years after his feats.
Owens was an amazing athlete who has inspired generations of people of all races. Hopefully, the above quotes will inspire you to become the best you can be.
Did you enjoy these Jesse Owens quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.
May 5, 2019 8:00 AM EST