Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Carl Lewis

I've found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet."

Track and field athlete Carl Lewis has competed in four Olympic Games. He won nine gold medals, including four at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He credits his outstanding 1991 results in the 100m sprint at the world championships to the vegan diet he adopted in 1990.

Lewis got his first taste of track and field events by competing for the local town club, which his parents both coached. By the time he was a senior in high school, he was one of the premier track and field high school athletes in the country. His long-jump mark that year of 26-8 ended up setting a new national prep record. He went on to enroll at the University of Houston in 1980, where he continued to set track and field marks. In 1981, he was named the top U.S. amateur athlete after becoming just the second person in NCAA history to win the 100 meters and long jump at the college championships. 

His Olympic success began at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, in which he set an Olympic record by besting the next closest runner by a record eight feet. He went on to win three additional golds in the long jump, the 200, and the 4x100 relay. Lewis went on to compete in three more Games: the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea; the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain; and the 1996 Games in Atlanta. In addition to the nine gold medals he won in these games, he also won eight career gold medals in the World Championships. 

Lewis' long competitive career came to an end on August 26, 1997, following his participation in the 4x100 relay at the Berlin Grand Prix.