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Carl Lewis - The 1992 And 1996 Olympics

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As Lewis turned 30, other athletes challenged his dominance of track and field. Leroy Burrell, Lewis's teammate in the Santa Monica Track Club, edged him out in the 100-meter dash at the 1990 Goodwill Games and the 1991 national championships. At the World Track Championships in Tokyo in 1991, Lewis set a new world record in the 100-meter, 9.86 seconds, beating Burrell by.02 seconds. But at the same meet, long jump rival Mike Powell broke Lewis's ten-year undefeated long jump streak. Lewis surpassed 29 feet three times, including a personal best of 29 feet, 111/2 inches—but Powell broke the world record with a jump of 29 feet, 41/2 inches.

The next year, Lewis had a sinus infection during the Olympic trials, and he only qualified for the long-jump team and as a relay team alternate. But at the Olympics in Barcelona, Lewis beat Powell with a jump of 28 feet 51/2 inches to win his third long-jump gold. He led the relay team to a new world record, just as he had in Los Angeles. "This was my best Olympics," he said—two gold medals, no controversy.

Ever since 1979, when a young Lewis beat his aging idol Williams, he vowed to stop running once he was past his prime. By 1996, it looked like the time might have come for him to take his own advice. That March, he finished last in a 60-meter semi-final heat at one meet. But he was determined to make the Olympic team once more. In the Olympic trials, he almost failed to qualify as a long-jumper, but pulled it out with a 27-foot, 21/2-inch jump. At the Olympics in Atlanta, at age thirty-five, with gray peppering his hair, he stunned the crowd and himself with a 27-foot, 103/4-inch jump, winning his fourth long-jump gold medal. It was "better than all the others," he told a People reporter. "All the others, I was expected to win. This time I was a competitor. Before I was an icon."

The Best Ever

Being the world's fastest human and longest jumper wasn't enough for Carl Lewis. … But in the end there was one thing he couldn't escape: hisown talent. One by one, all the trappings that were supposed to make him unique fell away like leaves, leaving only this rare, bare-trunk truth: Excelling at the simplest things — running and jumping — for the longest time is what has made Carl Lewis unlike any athlete who ever lived.

Source: Smith, Gary. Sports Illustrated (August 17, 1992): 40.

Related Biography: Track and Field Athlete Carol Lewis

Carol Lewis, Olympic track and field athlete, bobsledder, television sports commentator, and younger sister of track legend Carl Lewis, was born in 1963. As a child, Carol and Carl built a long-jump pit in their back yard and raced against each other. At thirteen, she competed in her first pentathlon, and broke the national record for 13-year-old girls. At fourteen, she came in first in the long jump at the junior nationals in Indianapolis.

In 1980, she earned a place on the U.S. women's Olympic long jump team, which boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. In college, she competed for the University of Houston track and field team, and was an NCAA long-jump champion twice. In 1983, she won both the indoor and outdoor titles. She competed in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics, finishing ninth in the long jump in 1984.

Lewis is also a member of the U.S. bobsled team and a track and field commentator for NBC sports.

Lewis retired from track and field in 1997 at a ceremony during halftime of a football game at his old alma mater, the University of Houston. His nine Olympic gold medals leave him tied with 1920s Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi for the most ever. In 1999, Sports Illustrated named him the best American Olympic athlete of the 20th century.

Today, Carl Lewis lives in Los Angeles. Since retiring from sports, he has been co-owner of a Houston restaurant and created his own line of sportswear, named SMTC after his old Santa Monica Track Club. In 1999, Texas Monthly reported that he was still running twice a week, as well as lifting weights and cycling.

Lewis is pursuing an acting career. He played a security guard in the 2002 made-for-TV movie Atomic Twister, and he will appear in the science-fiction movie Alien Hunter, scheduled for release in 2003.

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