Story of Olympic Solidarity Inspires Book

1 | 8 | 2015

In 1936, as U.S. Olympian Jesse Owens lined up to take his third and final attempt to qualify for the final of the long jump at the Berlin Olympic Games, his German counterpart Luz Long, an Aryan archetype praised by Hitler, offered some words of advice.

On the back of that advice, Owens altered the run up on his last jump, qualified for the final and went on to win Gold for his country and break the Olympic record. Long won the Silver medal and was the first to congratulate Owens for his achievement. It was a moment that would go down in history for the few brief words that were exchanged, a story of human courage which defied the Nazi regime and earned Long a place in history as an athlete of great valour.

More than 70 years later, the granddaughters of the two Olympians, Julia-Vanessa Long and Marlene Dortch-Owens, met for the first time and posed for a photograph with IAAF President Lamine Diack following the long jump event at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin. It was following that meeting that the Long family were inspired to write the story of their heroic relative.

The biography, entitled Luz Long – a sportsman in the Third Reich, was released earlier this year in Germany. Chapter 31 includes the letter that WOA President Joël Bouzou sent to the Long family to encourage them to write the book.

President of the WOA, Joël Bouzou, who was at the launch of the biography in Hamburg, said:

“I am moved as President of the World Olympians Association, because these two Olympians who marked history also showed us that champions can bring progress to society, and this must continue to guide us in our efforts.

“Sport has the power to unite people despite differences, and Jesse Owens and Luz Long are one of the greatest examples of this. At a time when Olympic values were flouted by the Hitler regime, these two great champions proved that friendship, solidarity and respect always triumph on the field of play.