Running Records: Carl Lewis

Find out more about Carl Lewis, a runner who dominated the Olympic games from the ’80s into the ’90s.

Guess who’s having a birthday on July 1st? Carl Lewis. He is one of the most prolific runners in history and his life has all of the elements of a track star: struggle, drama and triumph.

Frederick Carlton Lewis (a.k.a. Carl Lewis) was born in 1961 in Birmingham, Ala. It was a chaotic time in history because the civil rights movement was in full force. And, Carl Lewis’ family was not untouched by it. Riots and protesting affected his parents, who were both teachers. His father was often attacked by the police. As a result, the family decided to move to a more peaceful, racially diverse town: Willingboro, N.J.

After the move, Lewis’s parents started a track club. Little Carl and his sister Carol were a part of it, yet Carl wasn’t the star. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even good. It was during this time he met a family friend, the legendary Jesse Owens. Owens gave Carl a piece of advice that would stay with him forever: Just have fun. Apparently, these words led to a breakthrough. Carl eventually entered the spotlight and had a headline-making running career.

In the ’80s, he began to dominate the 100m and 200m. At the 1984 Olympics, he walked away with four gold medals and ended up breaking a world record. He carried this winning streak well into the ’90s. By the time it was all over, he had 17 gold medals and the title “Olympian of the Century.” The world praised Carl Lewis and, to the dismay of onlookers, he often praised himself.

Yes, Carl Lewis was known for his flamboyant hair, clothes and behavior. He wore a flat top. He dressed in unconventional, flashy clothes. And, he lived in Los Angeles and rubbed elbows with the stars. It was all too much for some people. It could be the reason why he didn’t get as many endorsements. Yet, to a few of us, it was understandable. Anyone who had achieved as much as he did deserved to pat himself on the back. So, on his upcoming birthday, I hope the now 47-year-old Carl Lewis will be eating a big slice of cake and telling himself, “I did good. I did really good.” After all, it is the truth, whether you like it or not.



45010559's picture
Jan 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm ZC11067 said:

I think it was his singing of the National Anthem that did him in.