And things advanced quickly from there. In 1912, Native American Jim Thorpe dazzled the world at the Oslo Games, winning two golds including the difficult 10-event decathlon. Afterward, Norwegian King Gustav VI declared: “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.” Jesse Owens, an African American track and field standout, shattered the myth of Aryan superiority at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, crushing the competition while infuriating Hitler. Athletes like Owens had opportunities not available earlier, and he and others like Black boxer Joe Louis destroyed negative stereotypes with their achievements.
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