St Louis 1904 Olympic Games

St Louis 1904 Olympic Games - III Olympiad Olympic Games - St. Louis 1904

The 1904 St. Louis Olympics organizers repeated the mistakes of 1900.  The Games originally were scheduled for Chicago, but were switched to St. Louis when Olympic organizing committee officials had the bright idea of combining the Olympics with the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, a large fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of the U.S. acquisition of the Louisiana Territory.  As a result, the Games suffered.  The atmosphere was one of American inter-collegiate championships.  To illustrate the point, of the 94 events 52 were functionally closed events, contested by athletes only from the USA.

However, the 1904 Olympics produced innovations, they were the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals.

Fiasco in the St Louis 2004 Olympic Swimming Pool

Hungary's Zoltan Halmay was a Hungarian swimmer who won the 100 yards and 50 yard freestyle in the 1904 St Louis Olympics.  Incidentally, this was the only Olympic Games which used a pool and race distances in yards not meters.

Originally, Halmay beat American J. Scott Leary by a foot in the 50 yard event.  However, the American judge ruled that Leary had won.  This ruling resulted in a brawl and the judges ordered a rematch.   Halmay won again.

More Imperial Yards - No Metric Distances

For the only time in the Olympics, the 220 yards (200M) was run on a straight course, no bends.  Another unusual feature was the winner, Archie Hahn, got a handy 1 yd start on each of his three opponents.  This was not because they were professionals but because they false-started and in 1904 the penalty for jumping the gun was a 1 yd penalty.  Could this idea make a come-back?

Boxing and freestyle wrestling made their debuts.  Marathon runners Len Tau and Jan Mashiani, Tswana tribesmen who were in St. Louis as part of the Boer War exhibit at the World's Fair, became the first Africans to compete in the Olympics.

One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made of wood.  Chicago runner James Lightbody won the steeplechase and the 800m and then set a world record in the 1,500m.

St Louis Olympic Trivia
Chicago was supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but St. Louis stole it away. The Games were a fiasco.

  See more Olympic trivia.

Skulduggery In the St Louis 1904 Olympic Marathon

In the marathon at the St Louis 1904 Olympic Games, Lorz hitched a lift in his manager's car for about 10 miles.  Unsurprisingly for those days the care broke down so a refreshed Lorz carried on jogging.  Eventually he reached the stadium, still well in front of the other competitors and was hailed as the winner.

Though he initially went along with it, Lorz soon admitted the deception.  Thomas Hicks went on to become the real winner.  Actually, Lorz was not a bad runner because he won the Boston Marathon in 1905 with a time of 2:38:25.


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See more about The London 2012 Olympic Games:

2012 London Olympics   • 1896 Athens First Olympic Games   • 1900 Paris Olympics   • Olympics trivia

1904 St Louis Olympics   • 1908 London Olympics   • 1912 Stokholm Olympics   • 1920 Antwerp Olympics

1924 Paris Olympics   • 1928 Amsterdam Olympics   • 1932 LA Olympics   • 1936 Munich Olympics