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Jesse Owens was expecting to win gold medals especially in the broad jump event hands down. He was startled to see a tall German boy named Luz Long hitting the pit at almost 26 feet on his practice leaps. Hitler had kept Long under wraps, evidently hoping to win the jump with him. Owens, being a black American, was infuriated by Hitler’s deception and got preoccupied with the thought that if Long won, it would add some new support to the Nazis’ Aryan-superiority theory. Owens fouled twice in his qualifying jumps and was left with one attempt. At this point, the tall German introduces himself as Luz Long and said encouragingly, “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed”.


Extract I

“I wasn’t too worried about all … of those gold medals.”

Question (i): Which games are referred to in the extract above? Who wasn’t too worried about them?

Answer (i): The Olympic Games were being held in Berlin in the summer of 1936.

Jesse Owens, a black American athlete, had trained hard for the Games and wasn’t too worried about them.

Question (ii): Why were nationalistic feelings high during these Games?

Answer (ii): Hitler had propagated the myth about Aryan-supremacy theory and had childishly insisted that his performers were members of a master race and, therefore, would naturally outperform participants of inferior non-Aryan races. So, the nationalistic feelings were at an all-time high during these Games.

Question (iii): In which game was the speaker expected to win the gold medal? Why?

Answer (iii): In the broad jump event the speaker was expected to win the gold medal because, a year ago, as a sophomore at Ohio State University, he had set a world record of 26 feet 8-1/4 inches.

Question (iv): When the speaker went for his trials, he was startled to see somebody. Whom did he see? What has the speaker said about him?

Answer (iv): The speaker was startled to see a tall boy hitting the pit at almost 26 feet on his practice leaps. He was a German named Luz Long and Hitler had kept him under wraps.

The speaker said that if Long won, it would add some new support to the Nazis’ Aryan-superiority theory.

Question (v): What did Owens do to succeed in the competition?

Answer (v): Owens had trained, sweated and disciplined himself for six years with the Games in mind. He had his eye especially on the running broad jump as he had set a world record a year ago and it was expected of him to win that Olympic event hands down.


Extract II

“A little hot under … was superior and who wasn’t.”

Question (i): Who is the speaker of above lines? What was the speaker preoccupied with?

Answer (i): Jesse Owens, the black American athlete, is the speaker.

Jesse Owens was expecting to win gold medals especially in the broad jump event hands down. He was startled to see a tall German boy named Luz Long hitting the pit at almost 26 feet on his practice leaps. Hitler had kept Long under wraps, evidently hoping to win the jump with him. Owens, being a black American, was infuriated by Hitler’s deception and got preoccupied with the thought that if Long won, it would add some new support to the Nazis’ Aryan-superiority theory.

Question (ii): Give the meaning of:

  • hot under the collar

Answer (a): Jesse Owens was angry because Hitler had kept Luz Long under wraps, evidently hoping to win the jump with him.

  • Der Fuhrer

Answer (b): It is a political title which means leader of the Nazis and refers to Adolf Hitler.

Question (iii): Where was the speaker determined to go? What did he intend to do?

Answer (iii): The speaker was determined to go out to the broad jump tracks.

The speaker was told that Hitler had kept Luz Long under wraps. He was furious about Hitler’s methods to prove Aryan supremacy by any means necessary and resolved to shake the beliefs of Hitler and his master race by outperforming his Nazi opponent.

Question (iv): How did the speaker perform in his trials? Give reason for his unexpected performance.

Answer (iv): The speaker performed poorly and fouled in first two attempts of his qualifying jumps.

The speaker was surprised to see outstanding performance of Luz Long on his practice leaps. This got him preoccupied with the thought of a Nazi winning the gold medal and was driven by anger while initiating his leap, thus fouling twice.

Question (v): What was the Nazis’ Aryan-superiority theory?

Answer (v): Nazis believed that Germans belonged to a master race and called themselves Aryans. They considered themselves genetically superior and were born to rule non-Aryan races. In 1936 Berlin Olympics Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party wanted to demonstrate his racial superiority by dominating the Games. Hitler had trained a talented German named Luz Long and kept him under wraps in order to startle the world record holder Owens and win the broad jump event.


Extract III

“Did I come 3000 miles … a fool of myself?”

Question (i): What made the speaker of the extract bitter? Why was he making fouls?

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