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At age 13, Lewis began competing in the long jump, and he emerged as a promising athlete while coached by Andy Dudek and Paul Minore at Willingboro High School in his hometown of Willingboro Township, New Jersey.
He won his first national titles in the 100 m and long jump. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States.Comparisons were beginning to be made with Jesse Owens, who dominated sprint and long jump events in the 1930s.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.His relatively modest best from 1979 (10.67 s) improved to a world-class 10.21 the next year.But 1981 saw him run 10.00 s at the Southwest Conference Championships in Dallas on May 16, a time that was the third-fastest in history and stood as the low-altitude record.
Before Lewis, 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m) had been exceeded on two occasions by two people: Beamon and 1980 Olympic champion Lutz Dombrowski.