One of the greatest track and field athletes in history, Lewis's 9 Olympic gold medal
s are tied for the alltime record. Was prolific at both sprint
events and the long jump
Lewis (DOB: 7/1/1961 in Birmingham, Alabama) won numerous events at NCAA Championships in 1980 and 1981 while at the University of Houston before emerging as an international star. Carl actually qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the long jump, but because of the U.S. boycott did not have a chance to compete.
Lewis won various titles at the U.S. Track and Field Championships from 1981-1983 and individual golds in the 100 meter dash and the long jump at the World Championships in 1983, and also as part of the American 4x100 relay team.
1984 was the year Carl Lewis became a household name. In the Summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles, Lewis won 3 individual gold medals (in the long jump, 100 meters, and 200 meters) and also won a 4th gold as part of the U.S. 4x100 relay team.
Four years later, at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Lewis added gold in the long jump and 100 meters (bringing the Olympic gold tally to 6), and silver in the 200m. In the 100m, Ben Johnson actually won the race, but was stripped of the gold due to testing positive for steroids, giving 2nd place Lewis the gold. The 4x100 relay team was disqualified in preliminary heats for a bad baton pass, so Lewis did not have a chance to add another gold in that event.
In 1992, an aging Lewis did not even qualify to run in the 100m or 200m for the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. However, Lewis won a 7th gold in the long jump and was part of a world-record 4x100 relay performance by the U.S team, giving him an 8th gold medal.
1996 was Lewis's Olympic swansong at the Atlanta games. Again, he didn't qualify for the 100m or 200m. However, he shocked everyone and won the long jump at the age of 35, giving him the record tying 9th gold medal. The victory was his 4th straight gold in the long jump. There was much controversy over whether Lewis should be allowed to run on the American 4x100 team and try to get a record 10th gold. In the end, he did not run (and the Americans didn't even win, finishing 2nd).
The 9 Olympic golds tied Lewis with American swimmer Mark Spitz, Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina, and Finn runner Paavo Nurmi.
Lewis retired from international competition the next year, his legacy secure.
In 1999, ESPN's SportsCentury named Lewis #12 on its list of the greatest North American athletes of the 20th century.