By Gary Anderson

One of Jesse Owens' four Olympic gold medals from Berlin 1936 is up for auction ©SCP AuctionsDecember 2 - One of four Olympic gold medals won by American track and field star Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games has been put up for auction and is expected to bring in as much as $1 million (£609,000/€738,000) when the sale closes on Saturday (December 7).

Owens became one of the icons of the Olympics following his exploits in Berlin where he dominated in his events amid the height of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime and shattered the Aryan race supremacy doctrine that was supposed to be the calling card of the Games.

The 22-year-old proceeded to etch his name in Olympic history by winning gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres, the long jump and the 4x100m relay, making him the most successful athlete at the Games.

The medal up for auction is the only one that remains as the whereabouts of the other three are unknown.

Following the Games, Owens came back to the United States instead of touring with the American Olympics team resulting in him being stripped of his amateur status.

On his return from Berlin, Owens befriended dance and movie star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who helped Owens get employment in the entertainment industry.

As a token of gratitude, he gave Robinson one of his Olympic medals which has remained part of the Robinson estate and has been put up for auction by the family who are reportedly planning to use the proceeds to pay college tuition and contribute to charity.

Dan Imler from SCP Auctions, the firm in charge of the sale, said the medal has received 15 bids since the auction opened with the highest at $229,755 (£139,958/€169,223).

"Almost singlehandedly, Owens obliterated Hitler's plans," said Imler.

"You've got an African-American, son of a sharecropper, grandson of slaves who overcame these incredible circumstances and delivered a performance for the ages.

"We expect a lot of bidding activity on the final day of the auction, which is typical."

Jesse Owens claimed three track golds and a long jump gold in Berlin © Getty Images Jesse Owens claimed three track golds and a long jump gold in Berlin ©Hulton Archive

Owens travelled to Germany leaving behind a society in America that was rife with racial segregation and discrimination.

Despite the help from Robinson, Owens eventually returned to his home in Cleveland where he worked in the city's parks department and engaged in some public speaking.

"When they [athletes] came back, the US was just as it was when he left - segregated," said Ownes' daughter Marlene Owens Rankin.

"Even though he came back an Olympic hero, he wasn't offered opportunities that Olympic heroes of today are offered.

"We lived well, a middle-class life.

"We didn't want for much.

"But like many black men of that era, he struggled to provide for his family."

Owens died in Phoenix, Arizona in 1980 from lung cancer at the age of 66.

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