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Carl Lewis

American athlete Frederick Carlton "Carl" Lewis was born on July 1, 1961. He won 10 Olympic medals (of which 9 are gold) during his career, which lasted from 1984 to 1996.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Carl grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey, in the Philadelphia area. At age 13, Lewis started to compete in the long jump. With his high sprinting speed, he also performed well in the sprint events. In 1980, Carl was selected for the US Olympic team, but the American boycott of the Games in Moscow delayed Lewis' debut.

The following years, Lewis set season's-best performances in the 100 m and long jump. At the inaugural World Championships in 1983, Lewis won his first major titles, achieving victory in the 100 m, long jump and the 4 x 100 m relay events.

This made him a great favourite for success at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Also entering the 200 m, Lewis sought to equal Jesse Owens' performance of 1936 by winning these four events, which he did.

After he had repeated his 1983 performance at the World Championships in Rome in 1987, he was set for four more golds at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. However, things did not all go his way. He won the 100 metre sprint, but only after Ben Johnson was disqualified for a doping offence. It has since become known that Lewis himself had failed a drug test before the games, although he was subsequently cleared by the IAAF (see below). In the 200 m, he was surprisingly beaten by compatriot Joe DeLoach. The 4 x 100 m relay team was disqualified in the heats (with Lewis not even running) due to a bad exchange. Lewis had no problems defending his long jump title and headed an all-American podium.

During the season of 1991, Carl Lewis and his team mate, Leroy Burrell, dominated the sprint events. In the races before the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, Burrell broke Carl Lewis' world record, as he ran 9.90s. However, in the World Championships Carl Lewis responded to Burrell's challange, in perhaps the best 100m race in history, as a true Champion. In a race where six out of eight runners broke 10 seconds, a situation that had never previously occrred, Carl Lewis became the first man ever to break 9.90s, as he ran 9.86; thereby clinching his third World Championship title in the 100m and setting a new world record.

In the years subsequent to 1991, Lewis's sprinting career began un-wind; although, his long jump performance was still excellent. However, he was challenged in that event as well, as compatriot Mike Powell won an exciting duel at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, in which the legendary record of Bob Beamon from 1968 was finally broken.

At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, another duel between the two was decided in favour of Lewis, winning his third consecutive Olympic long jump title. Lewis also ran the last leg of the American 4 x 100 m team.

In the years that followed, Lewis did not win any major titles. In 1996 - aged 36 - he made a strong comeback in the long jump event, and made a bid for a fourth consecutive Olympic title. Lewis succeeded with remarkable ease, becoming only the third Olympian to win four consecutive titles in an individual event.

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