Sitting in the area from which Hitler watched the Olympic long jump were the grand-daughters of Jesse Owens and Luz Long, who won gold and silver in 1936. After Dwight Phillips won the title for the third time, with 8.54 metres, the pair, and Long’s son, Kai, presented the medals.

Owens had won with 8.06m, same as Britain’s Chris Tomlinson did for seventh on Saturday night.

Kai was just 17 months old when his father was killed in the second world war. Owens died in 1980.

Owens won four golds in 1936, but Long is credited with helping him when he looked likely to be eliminated. He advised Owens to move his check mark, and play safe, because he would still qualify easily. He did, and won the title.

I spoke with Long on Saturday, when he played down his father’s actions, which came to be interpreted as a snub to Hitler and his doctrine of Aryan supremacy.

“It was not a question of race, of being black and white,” said Long. “It was the normal attitude of pure, amateur sportsmen in those days, clean in every respect. It was absolutely normal in old amateur sport to help one another.”

But he added that it lit a flame. “This flame became bright, then brighter, and even more bright. And is still burning today.”

Owen’s grand-daughter, Marlene Dortch, agreed it was spontaneous: “Like when Rosa Parks sat down on that bus. Her intent was not to start a movement. She was tired, and felt she should be able to sit down on that bus.

“I feel great that I’m sitting in the box where Hitler once was, enjoying time with the Long family, that Luz Long’s family and Jesse Owens’ family are here to be celebrated. 
And Hitler? Who?”

Kai long-jumped once, he said. “I was 16, and
did about 5.50m but I
was introduced to golf
that year. It was like a bacillus”. He played off three.

A final letter his father wrote to Owens said in part: “Someday, find my son . . . tell him about how things can be between men on this earth.”

Owens did, and the families still maintain contact.