Sunday, June 10, 2012

Olympics: Brief history of the Modern Games: 1904 St Louis, US

It took over five months to complete and was organised in conjunction with the World Fair held in St Louis. For the first time winners received gold medals, runners up silver and third placed, bronze medals. Fred Lorz ran past the finishing looking rather fresh and it was revealed the US athlete had stopped running because of exhaustion after nine miles (14.5 km). His manager gave him a lift in his car for the next eleven miles (17.7 km), after which it broke down. Lorz then continued on foot back to the Olympic stadium, where he broke the finishing line tape and was greeted as the winner of the race. Lorz was later disqualified and banned from competition for life. The decision was recanted and Fred went onto win several marathons, but never again in an Olympic event.

The man who finished fourth in the St Louis marathon was called Felix Carvajal (Cuba). He was not an official representative of the country but had hitchhiked 700 miles to get to the race. Felix was postman from Cuba and paid to enter the marathon after collected enough cash by giving running demonstrations around Havana town square. On his way to St Louis he lost the money playing dice and had to beg the rest of the way. Carvajal ran in dress shoes and during the race stopped to practice his English. To amuse spectators he would run backwards as he chatted and joked. Sadly the amazing Felix Carvajal did not complete the race and collapsed suffering severe gastric pain due to diet of stolen green apples and peaches.

One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made out of wood. He lost his left leg as a child in a train accident.

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