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10 most heartwarming moments in the history of the Olympic Games - Part 1

As part of our Rio 2016 series, we look at 10 occasions sportsmen supported each other at the peak of competition.

Jesse Owens Luz Long 1936 Olympics Berlin
Track-and-field great Jesse Owens found an ally in Luz Long at the Olympics in Nazi Germany

The Olympic Games head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this August, with athletes from over 200 nations competing for the most prestigious prize in international sport.

The pinnacle of competition has, nevertheless, seen sportspersons from around the world lend each other support when they need it most.

Here are 10 heartwarming moments in the history of the Olympics:


The story of Jesse Owens and Luz Long

One of the greatest athletes of all time, Jesse Owens competed in a time of serious racial tension. Jim Crow laws, which discriminated heavily against people of colour in the United States, were in full effect in the early 1930s, when Owens was at his competitive prime.

And in 1936, Owens competed at one of the worst possible places for a man of colour – Nazi Germany, which hosted the Olympic Games that year.

But the legendary Owens found an unlikely ally.

Having won the 100m final the day before, Owens was now competing for the long jump. Struggling in the qualifiers, the American had already flubbed his first two attempts, when Long walked up to him and whispered advice in his ear. He suggested Owens use a slightly different technique on his final jump – and the technique worked.

Owens qualified on his final attempt. With his performance in the finals, the American, who had been going neck-and-neck with the German, beat him to the gold medal there.

And Long would be the first one to congratulate him.

In an atmosphere marked by severe competition, racial tensions and the advent of the most gruesome political regime of the past century, one story stood out – and it was that of Owens and Long.

80 years later, the families of the pair are still in touch.

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