His first Olympics, (1984) saw him equal Olympic legend Jesse Owens' record of four Olympic medals. Lewis reflects, “I was blessed by having the strength of Jesus to compete in four events and win four gold medals, something only one other man, Jesse Owens, had accomplished. When I look back to that Olympics, I feel good about it because, throughout my career, I've gone through a lot of different situations. But the Lord has enabled me to have the confidence, the strength and the drive to be the best.”
In one of the most controversial moments in Olympic history (1988 Barcelona Olympics) Lewis was defeated by Canadian Ben Johnson in the 100m only to have the gold awarded to him after Johnson failed a drug test. In purely athletic terms, it was the 1991 World Championships that is regarded as his greatest meet. Lewis competed in both in the 100m and Long Jump. In the Long Jump, Lewis went jump to jump with fellow American, Mike Powell. The see-saw battle ended with Lewis victorious, and his ability to rise to the challenge cemented in history. The 100m produced one of the greatest finals in Track history, with six men finishing in under ten seconds. Lewis not only defeated his opponents, he reclaimed the world record with a clocking of 9.86sec. His final Olympic victory (1996 Atlanta Olympics) saw him reclaim his Long Jump Olympic title. At the end of his Olympic career, Lewis is known as the only person to defend an Olympic 100 meter or long jump title.
For the record, his personal bests are:
• 100 m: 9.86 s (1991)
• 200 m: 19.75 s (1983)
• Long jump: 8.87 m 1991
The result of these performances was a host of awards and recognition. In 1999, Lewis was voted "Sportsman of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee, elected "World Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations and named "Olympian of the Century" by Sports Illustrated.
But the greatest honour Lewis sees is the gift of his faith. “Knowing I have the Lord with me, I feel that there is no greater strength that I could have going into a competition. To inherit the kingdom of God, it didn't matter that I had accomplished a feat that day only accomplished once before, and that by the legendary Jessie Owens. I had to do what everyone must do: avail myself of what Jesus Christ's death on the cross made possible; salvation for anyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ.”