The Story of Carl Lewis

He’s one of the most dominant track & field athletes the world has ever seen. But the career of the "sportsman of the century" hasn’t been without controversy. This is the story of Carl Lewis.

Looking back at a storied career

With 9 gold medals at the Olympic Games and 8 gold medals at the World Championships, he’s one of the most decorated sprinters and jumpers. Carl Lewis was born in 1961 in Alabama into a family of athletes. He started long jumping at the age of 13 at the athletics club founded by his mother.

In 1981, before he even turned 20, he jumped to 8.62 meters. He also ran the 100 meters in 10 seconds. For the first time, he topped the world rankings in the long jump and in the 100 meters. In 1984, he took part in his first Olympic Games, in Los Angeles. He won the 4 gold medals in: 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 meter relay, and the long jump. No athlete had achieved such a feat since Jesse Owens in 1936. Between 1984 and 1988, he launched a music career, releasing 2 albums and 6 singles, including “Break It Up.” Except in Sweden, where the song ranked number 3 in sales, though a hit in Sweden, the song wasn’t very successful. In 1988, at the Seoul Olympics, Lewis came in second, at 9.92 seconds, to Ben Johnson who won the 100-meter final in 9.79 seconds, A few days later, Johnson tested positive for steroids.

Lewis took home the gold medal — and now had the world record. 15 years later, in 2003, documents revealed that Lewis had also tested positive for drugs in 1988. In 1989, he decided to become a vegan. In 1991, when Lewis was 30 years old, he competed in the World Championships in Tokyo. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, he won 2 more gold medals, in the long jump and in the 4x100 meter relay. 4 years later, he won another gold in the long jump at the Atlanta Olympics. It was his 9th Olympic gold medal in track and field, a feat last achieved in 1928 and a record that remains unbroken.