Olympics and History of the Modern Games St. Louis 1904 Part 1

About the Olympics and the modern games, account of the games in St. Louis, United States in 1904

ST. LOUIS, MO., U.S., 1904

The 3rd Olympics in 1904 was also staged with a world's fair: the St. Louis Exposition. Interest centered again on the marathon. Felix Carvajal, a Cuban postman, raised money for passage by running around Havana's public square, but in New Orleans, the story goes, he lost his funds in a dice game. He worked and hitchhiked his way to St. Louis where a group of U.S. weightlifters, amused and touched by his plight, shared their food and lodging with the small Cuban. Carvajal went to the marathon starting line in trousers, long-sleeved shirt, and street shoes; but an American, concerned about the August heat, clipped off his sleeves and pants legs.

Fred Lorz, an American, was the early marathon leader but his pace forced him to the sidelines by the halfway mark. He waved at passing runners and accepted a lift in a truck which soon overtook the competitors. About 5 mi. from the finish, the vehicle broke down and Lorz, now rested, decided to jog to keep his muscles loose. When he arrived at the stadium the crowd cheered. Lorz decided to play along with the hoax, which ended just before presentation of the cup when he confessed that he had ridden part of the way. Only fellow runners' support that they knew he was playing a joke saved Lorz from lifetime suspension.

The St. Louis heat finished off many contestants. Thomas Hicks, of Boston, reached the stadium near collapse but his trainers administered a strychnine shot (then not illegal) and he became the winner. Carvajal, who led once, had stopped to pick and eat some green apples, suffered cramps, and lay down awhile but still came in 4th.

Few European countries could afford to send athletes all the way to St. Louis, so only 10 foreign countries were represented in the games. U.S. athletes dominated. Pygmies and Kaffirs from Africa, Moros and Igorots from the Philippines, and American Indians competed in a series of events, including a mud fight and pole climb, called "Anthropology Day."

The Greeks had been clamoring to have the games in Athens rather than at different sites. De Coubertin, despairing of the poorly attended French games and American-dominated St. Louis games, suggested separate events at Athens. The Greeks welcomed the idea and staged them, but only once, in 1906. For the 1st time, an official U.S. Olympic Committee selected an American team whose members, while at sea, suffered several major injuries in rough waters.

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