lewis was a dominant sprinter and long jumper who topped the world rankings in the 100 m, 200 m and long jump events frequently from 1981 to the early 1990s. lewis qualified for the american team for the 1980 olympics in the long jump and as a member of the 4 × 100 m relay team. he won his first national titles in the 100 m and long jump. lewis himself had often stated it was a goal of his to surpass the mark. douglas said he was inaccurately quoted, but the impression that lewis was aloof and egotistical was firmly planted in the public’s perception by the end of the 1984 olympic games.  at year’s end, lewis was again awarded the top rankings in the 100 m and the long jump and was additionally ranked number one in the 200 m, and for the third year in a row he was awarded the athlete of the year title by track & field news. in the 4 × 100 m relay, lewis anchored the gold-medal team to a time of 37.90 s, the third-fastest of all time.
when william lewis died of cancer at age 60, lewis placed the gold medal he won for the 100 m in 1984 in his hand to be buried with him. lewis was deemed to be the world record holder for his 1988 olympic performance and declared the 1987 100 m world champion.  lewis was up against his main rival of the last few years, mike powell, the silver medalist in the event from the 1988 olympics and the top-ranked long jumper of 1990. lewis had at that point not lost a long jump competition in a decade, winning the 65 consecutive meets in which he competed. after the heights reached in 1991, lewis started to lose his dominance in both the sprints and the long jump. the final decision was to exclude lewis from the team. the usoc claimed his case “baseless” as he himself was the one in charge of screening the anti-doping test program of the organization and clarifying that the athletes were cleared according to the rules. “ in 1999, lewis was voted “sportsman of the century” by the international olympic committee, elected “world athlete of the century” by the international association of athletics federations and named “olympian of the century” by sports illustrated. he credits his outstanding 1991 results in part to the vegan diet he adopted in 1990, when he was in his late twenties.
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