Missouri April 04, 2017
7 Weird Things That Happened When Missouri Hosted The Olympics
Every four years, the best athletes of the world come together to compete in the Olympics. The location changes each time and gives us an inside look at the country and its culture. Over 100 years ago, St. Louis hosted the Olympics and brought attention to our little corner of America. It wasn’t the most successful ceremony, but the bizarre stories make it quite memorable. Here are the weirdest things that happened during the 1904 St. Louis Olympics.
1. St. Louis wasn't the first choice. Or the second. Or the third.
Originally, Chicago had won the bid to host the 1904 Olympics after they beat out Philadelphia and New York. However, during that same summer, St. Louis was already chosen to host the World's Fair. To draw in more guests, organizers partnered with the Amateur Athletic Union to host the 1904 track and field championships. With the possibility of conflicting athletic competitions, the IOC had no choice but to award St. Louis with the 1904 Olympic bid.
2. Only 12 countries participated.
It was almost as if the 1904 Olympic Ceremony was the party that no one wanted to attend. This year would mark the first Olympics held outside of Europe and many countries did not have the means to travel to St. Louis. It resulted in only 12 countries competing with the U.S. accounting for 523 of the 630 athletes. To know surprise, we demolished the competition by winning 239 medals. Germany came in second with a measly count of 13 total medals.
3. The competition featured a sideshow called, "Anthropology Days"
In addition to the standard Olympic games, indigenous men were pitted against each other in a series of games. Many of them were not trained in the specific sports, so the end result was a disaster.
4. Tug-of-war was an actual event in the track category.
While tug-of-war is a popular elementary school game, it's not sport that people compete in professionally today. However, in 1904 it was one of the scored events at the Olympics.
5. The marathon was a catastrophe.
To say the conditions weren't ideal would be an understatement. The course was set on hilly, dusty roads in 90-degree heat. Out of 32 competitors, only 14 completed it. One of them, Fred Lorz, rode in a truck during the last portion of the course and was almost named the winner after he hopped out to run through the finish line. Thomas Hicks finished first, but his performance was considered illegal due to doping. During the race, his trainers supplied him with strychnine sulfate (a common rat poison, which stimulates the nervous system) mixed with brandy.
6. Women were only allowed to compete in one sport.
During the 1904 Olympics, women were only allowed to score in archery. However, they did compete in the Olympic boxing card, but their performance was only viewed as a side show.
7. It lasted 4 and a half months.
Talk about a never-ending game. The 1904 Olympic Games spanned for almost 5 months.
As bizarre and disastrous as it was, I have a feeling viewership would have gone up had it been televised today. Did you know about Missouri’s role in Olympics history? Hopefully, we’re trusted with hosting another event in the future.