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Twom Lives After Losing to Jesse Owens

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Robert Weintraub's "Twom Lives After Losing to Jesse Owens" speaks of the lives of both Matthew "Mack" Robinson, and Martinus Osendarp, and the trials and tribulations they faced after attaining, what today would be considered an amazing accomplishment, Olympic silver and gold medals. These two men accomplished what most spend their whole lives training for and came to an end nobody would wish for.

Mack Robinson, older brother of the legendary Jackis Robinson and track star of Pasadena City College, came in four-tenths of a second behind Jesse Owens earning him the silver medal in the 200-meter dash. His close lost and silver medal would have been parade worthy in present day. But Robinson colored skin and low social standing lead to his medal being seen as "worthless". Robinson said "If anybody in Pasadena was proud of me , other than my family and close friends, they never showed it." Robinson went on to working as a street cleaner, who was later fired when a local judge ordered the disegregation of public swimming pools in Pasadena and the city retaliated by firing all the the black workers. The treatment of Mack in his hometown lead to Jackie's lifelong resentment of Pasadena. The Robinson brothers were finally honored in 1997 by the city of Pasadena by the unveiling of nine-foot-high bronze sculptures of their heads across the street from city hall.

Martinus Osendarp, the Dutchman who finished two-tenths of a second behind Robinson, came in an extremely close third place. The gold medal winner came home a sports hero, the "best sprinter of the white race". He was honored by being picked up in Berlin by a private plane and then proceeded to be honored nation wide. Osendarp went on to become a police officer and later became and SD for the Nazi special police. In 1945, he was convicted of war crimes, and after 12 years of being incarcirated he was released and found work just as hard to find as Robinson did. Unable to find work he went back to working in the coal mines he had worked at during his stint in prison. For decades he was shunned until he was assigned the track coach at a nearby club where he instructed young runners to in the finer points of sprinting.

Both athletes, Robinson and Osendarp, achieved greatness. And both men had fates that did not mirror their accomplishment. Robinson's medal was ignored for decades and was not honored until his head was idolized along with his brother Jackie. Osendarp was celebrated and paraded until circumstances caused him to make a decision he would forever regret. He continued his life as an ex-convict and a shunned man. The stories of these two men show that no matter what great things you do you can not escape your destiny, good or bad.



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