Twenty-year-old athlete Adolf Dassler, it seems, was driven to provide every track and field athlete with the best footwear for his or her respective discipline. He made his first shoe from canvas. In the mid-1920s, he experimented with spikes in his shoes’ soles. Athletes wore them for the first time competing in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Lina Radke-Batschauer won an Olympic gold medal in Adidas shoes, running the women's 800m in world record time. Dassler’s spikes, as Radke-Batschauer’s time demonstrated, gave athletes better traction.
By the mid-1930s "Adi" Dassler was making 30 different shoes for 11 sports, and he had a workforce of almost 100 employees. The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were another big win for Adidas. Jesse Owens set new records in Adidas shoes in almost all of the 12 events he competed in. Owens, an American, was lauded as the most successful athlete in Berlin, winning four gold medals in Dassler’s shoes.
Dassler made the first post-war sports shoes in 1947 using canvas and rubber from American fuel tanks. But his biggest breakthrough of all was when the German team, wearing Adidas screw-in stud shoes, won the Soccer World Cup in 1954. It was raining, and the Hungarians struggled in heavy, rain-soaked boots with studs too short to grip the muddy field. The Germans scored the game-deciding goal in shoes with more grip. Plus, the shoes reportedly gave players a better feel for the ball, thanks to Adidas’ thinner leather upper.