Carl Lewis soars into Olympic history

Carl Lewis won his fourth consecutive gold medal in the men's long jump on July 29, 1996. Mike Powell/Allsport

On this date in 1996, one of the greatest Olympians of all time completed his most impressive feat.

At the Summer Games in Atlanta, Carl Lewis squeaked into the final round of the long jump on his last attempt. Then on his third jump of the final round, Lewis unleashed a jump of 27 feet, 10¾ inches, which moved him into first place.

Lewis passed on two of his last three jumps, and when Mike Powell fouled on his last leap, Lewis had done it.

He won the long jump for the fourth straight Olympics, becoming the second track and field athlete to win four consecutive Olympic golds in the same event, along with discus thrower Al Oerter from 1956 to 1968.

Only two other athletes in any sport have won four straight golds in one Olympic event: Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley from 2004 to 2016, and Denmark’s Paul Elvstrom in the one-person dinghy from 1948 to 1960.

The gold was the 10th medal of Lewis’ Olympic career, putting him behind only Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi (12) among track and field athletes.

Lewis increased his career total to nine golds, tying the Olympic record for gold medals, since surpassed by Phelps with 23.

Lewis made his Olympic name a dozen years earlier in Los Angeles, winning gold medals in the 100 meters, 200, 4x100 relay and long jump. He set an Olympic record in the 200 and was part of the world-record setting relay team.

At those Games, Lewis became the sixth Olympian with four track and field golds at one Olympics, the first to do so since 1948. No one else has done it since then.

Lewis had a chance to repeat that feat at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, but he took silver in the 200, and the U.S. relay team was disqualified in the first round.

He did repeat as 100 champion after Ben Johnson was disqualified for a positive steroid test, making Lewis the first man to win two Olympic golds in the event, a feat Usain Bolt topped by winning his third straight in Rio last year.

In 1992, Lewis won his third long jump gold, and he anchored the relay team to a world record, making him the only athlete to win the long jump and the 4x100 relay in the same Olympics twice.

He wasn’t expected to win another gold in 1996, but his dramatic victory is one of the lasting memories from the Atlanta Games and one of the greatest accomplishments in Olympic history.