Thomas Bach

IOC president expresses thoughts on Jesse Owens’ gold medal auction

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That one of Jesse Owens‘ four gold medals earned at the 1936 Olympics is going up for auction is a “very difficult decision” to accept, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said.

“[It has] an importance far beyond the sporting achievements of Jesse Owens, which is part of world history,” Bach told The Associated Press at an anti-doping conference in South Africa on Wednesday. “To put this up for an auction is for me a very difficult decision [to accept].”

It’s been known since July that one of Owens’ medals would be auctioned off. The news picked up buzz in the last week with more reports as the auction got closer. It will be sold to the highest bidder Dec. 7.

The IOC will not intervene in the sale, according to the AP.

An official with SCP Auctions, which will reportedly begin the auction Nov. 20, said in August he expected the medal to bring in “several hundred thousand dollars.” Another SCP official said he expected more than $1 million last week.

“We think this is a seven-figure piece,” SCP auctions president David Kohler told ESPN.com. “We expect to see a good deal of international interest and could see some institutions bidding. This is so much bigger than a piece of sports memorabilia. It’s a piece of history.”

The company does not know if the medal is from the 100m, the 200m, the long jump or the 4×100m relay, all won by Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Owens triumphed in front of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.

The medal is “a part of world heritage,” Bach told the AP.

Owens gifted the medal to entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson after the 1936 Olympics, according to “Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson.” It was consigned by the family of Robinson’s widow, according to SCP Auctions. Robinson gave Owens tap-dancing lessons, according to “Jesse Owens: A Biography.”

“It shows some wear, some handling wear,” SCP Auctions managing director Dan Imler said three months ago. “I would say a moderate degree … but it still presents very well.”

In 2010, 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey player Mark Wells sold his gold medal from the “Miracle on Ice” team for $310,700. Mike Eruzione sold his hockey stick from the U.S.-Russia game and his jersey from the following game against Finland for $262,900 and $286,800, respectively, to a 9-year-old boy named Seven in February.

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Ryan Lochte, with new coach, races in first meet since Olympics

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Ryan Lochte is back in the competition pool.

The 12-time Olympic medalist, suspended from USA Swimming and international meets through June, won a 200-yard individual medley at the U.S. Masters nationals in Riverside, Calif., on Friday. He also finished second in a 100-yard breaststroke.

Full results are here.

Lochte has moved to the Los Angeles area and is now coached by the University of Southern California’s Dave Salo until his fiancée’s baby is born (likely June). After that, they will re-evaluate his plan, Salo said.

Lochte was formerly coached by Gregg Troy from 2002-13 at the University of Florida, where he attended college and matured to become an Olympian in 2004. Lochte won 11 Olympic medals under Troy and became the world’s best swimmer going into the 2012 Olympics.

In 2013, Lochte moved from Gainesville to Charlotte and trained under David Marsh through the Rio Games. Lochte said last summer that he planned to move to California.

Lochte has also said he plans to try for a fifth Olympics in 2020, but his immediate future is about to get very busy — becoming a father, becoming a husband and the end of his ban.

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Jesse Owens’ Olympic gold medals up for auction

Jesse Owens
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Two of Jesse Owens‘ four 1936 Berlin Olympic gold medals will be auctioned in August, according to Heritage Auctions.

Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Games, triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany by taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Owens gifted one gold medal to entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, according to “Mr. Bojangles: The Biography of Bill Robinson.”

That medal was auctioned for in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

Owens used his three other Olympic golds as payment for a Pittsburgh hotel stay in the mid-1950s, according to “Intelligent Collector,” a magazine affiliated with Heritage Auctions, which is housing the August auction with Owens’ medals.

“Jesse didn’t have the financial means to pay for his stay at Mr. Harry Bailey’s hotel,” said Albert DeVito, son of a local handyman who ended up with the two gold medals being auctioned, according to the magazine. “So he gave his medals to Harry as his payment for expenses incurred.”

DeVito’s father was later gifted the three gold medals by the hotel owner Bailey for previously lending him money. DeVito’s father kept two and gave back to Bailey one gold medal whose whereabouts are unknown, according to the magazine.

DeVito thought to sell the remaining two gold medals after seeing the 2013 auction.

“It wasn’t until that first gold medal sold that we even thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. These things are worth something!'” DeVito said, according to the magazine.

It’s unknown which of the gold medals corresponds to which Olympic event, as they are not specified on the medals.

Before Owens’ death in 1980, the sprinter reportedly said he had lost the four gold medals. The German government replaced them, and they now rest at Ohio State, Owens’ alma mater.

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