1904 Summer Olympics
Advertisement for the 1904 Summer Olympics and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
|Host city||St. Louis, United States|
|Athletes||651 (645 men, 6 women)|
|Events||95 in 16 sports (17 disciplines)|
|Opened by||David R. Francis|
The 1904 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the III Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in St. Louis, Missouri, United States from August 29 until September 3, 1904, as part of an extended sports program lasting from July 1 to November 23, 1904, at what is now known as Francis Field on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held outside Europe.
Tensions caused by the Russo–Japanese War and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis may have contributed to the fact that very few top ranked athletes from outside the US and Canada took part in these Games. Only 62 of the 651 athletes who competed came from outside North America, and only 12–15 nations were represented in all. Some events combined the U.S. national championship with the Olympic championship.
The city of Chicago, Illinois won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the same time frame.
The exposition organization began to plan for its own sports activities, informing the Chicago OCOG that its own international sports events intended to eclipse the Olympic Games unless they were moved to St. Louis. Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, stepped in and awarded the Games to St. Louis.
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The St. Louis organizers treated the Games in a manner similar to the previous Olympiad, with competitions reduced to a side-show of the World's Fair and overshadowed by other, more popular cultural exhibits. David R. Francis, the President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, declined to invite anybody else to open the Games and on July 1 did so himself in a short, disorganised and poorly attended ceremony.
Officially, the games lasted for four and a half months, with James Edward Sullivan attempting to hold a sporting event every day for the duration of the fair. The Olympic-calibre events were mixed with other sporting events that Sullivan also called "Olympic", with the IOC declaring that 94 or 95 of these events were Olympic. The actual athletics events that formed the bulk of the recognised Olympic sports were held from Monday, August 29 to Saturday, September 3.
The participants totalled 651 athletes – 645 men and six women representing 12 countries. However, only 42 events (less than half) actually included athletes who were not from the United States.
Boxing, dumbbells, freestyle wrestling and the decathlon made their debuts. The swimming events were held in a temporary pond near Skinker and Wydown Boulevards, where "lifesaving demonstrations" of 'unsinkable' lifeboats for ocean liners took place. The organizers of the World's Fair held "Anthropology Days" on August 12 and 13. Several indigenous men from around the world competed in various events for anthropologists to see how they compared to the white man.
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, and Frank Kugler won four medals in freestyle wrestling, weightlifting and tug of war, making him the only competitor to win a medal in three different sports at the same Olympic Games.
Chicago runner James Lightbody won the steeplechase and the 800 m and then set a world record in the 1500 m. Harry Hillman won both the 200 m and 400 m hurdles and also the flat 400 m. Sprinter Archie Hahn was champion in the 60 m, 100 m and 200 m. In this last race, he set an Olympic record in 21.6, a record that stood for 28 years. In the discus, after American Martin Sheridan had thrown exactly the same distance as his compatriot, Ralph Rose (39.28 m), the judges gave them both an extra throw to decide the winner. Sheridan won the decider and claimed the gold medal. Ray Ewry again won all three standing jumps.
The team representing Great Britain was awarded a total of two medals, both won by Irish athletes. The top non-USA athlete was Emil Rausch of Germany, who won three swimming events. Zoltan Halmay of Hungary and Charles Daniels of the United States each won two swimming gold medals. Galt Football Club from Canada won the gold medal in football.
The marathon was the most bizarre event of the Games. It was run in brutally hot weather, over dusty roads, with horses and automobiles clearing the way and creating dust clouds. Access to water along the course was intentionally restricted by organizer James Edward Sullivan.
The first to arrive at the finish line was Frederick Lorz, who actually rode the rest of the way in a car to retrieve his clothes, after dropping out after nine miles. The car broke down at the 19th mile, so he re-entered the race and jogged back to the finish line. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony and was banned for a year by the AAU for this stunt, later winning the 1905 Boston Marathon.
Thomas Hicks (a Briton running for the United States) was the first to cross the finish-line legally, after having received from his trainers several doses of strychnine sulfate (a common rat poison, which stimulates the nervous system in small doses) mixed with brandy. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium had he not been treated by several doctors. He lost eight pounds during the course of the marathon. A Cuban postman named Felix Carvajal joined the marathon, arriving at the last minute. He had to run in street clothes that a fellow runner cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill from the apples, he finished in fourth place.
The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics: two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). They were not in St. Louis to compete in the Olympics, however; they were actually part of the sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit. Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.
Arriving without correct documents, Frenchman Arthur Coray was not included as part of the French team. He is inconsistently listed as performing in a mixed team in the four-mile team race and performing for the US in the marathon.
94 events in 17 disciplines, comprising 16 sports, were part of the Olympic program in 1904. Swimming and diving are considered two disciplines of the same sport, aquatics. The number of events in each discipline is noted in parentheses.
Water polo is also mentioned in the games reports for the 1904 Summer Olympics. However, it was not considered at the time to be a demonstration sport and, even though it has since been classified as such, it has not been included retrospectively in the IOC's official medal database.
Five sports venues were used for the 1904 Summer Olympics. The venues included the first golf course constructed west of the Mississippi River. Three of the sports venues were on the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition which was being held concurrently with the Olympics. Glen Echo Country Club became the first golf course west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1901. It is still in use as of 2017. Forest Park was where the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition took place, and it hosted the diving, swimming, and water polo events on the Life Saving Exhibition Lake. During the water polo events, several of the cattle from a World's Fair livestock exhibit were allowed to enter the lake, on the opposite side from the swimming and water polo events. Within one year, four of those athletes died of typhus.
Creve Coeur Lake became the first park of St. Louis County in 1945. The Lake has hosted rowing regattas since 1882 and still hosts them as of 2010. Francis Field and Gymnasium are still in use on the Washington University in St. Louis campus as of 2010. An ornamental gate commemorating the 1904 Games was constructed outside the stadium immediately after the Exposition. A swimming pool was added to the gymnasium in 1985. Forest Park, constructed in 1876, is still in use as of 2010 and attracts over 12 million visitors annually. Glen Echo Country Club remains in use as a golf course today as of 2010.
|Creve Coeur Lake||Rowing||Not listed.|||
|Francis Field||Archery, Athletics, Cycling, Football, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Roque, Tennis, Tug of war, Weightlifting, and Wrestling||19,000|||
|Francis Gymnasium||Boxing, Fencing.||Not listed.|||
|Forest Park||Diving, Swimming, Water Polo||Not listed.|||
|Glen Echo Country Club||Golf||Not listed.|||
Athletes from twelve nations competed in St. Louis. Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of known competitors for each nation. Due to the difficulty of getting to St. Louis, and European tensions caused by the Russo-Japanese War, only 62 athletes from outside North America came to the Olympics.
|Participating National Olympic Committees|
Some sources also list athletes from the following nations as having competed at these Games.
Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees
These are the top ten nations to win medals at the 1904 Games.
|Totals (10 nations)||96||92||92||280|
The nationalities of many medalists are disputed, as many American competitors were recent immigrants to the United States who had not yet been granted US citizenship.
In 2009, historians from the International Society of Olympic Historians discovered that cyclist Frank Bizzoni, formerly thought to be an American, was still an Italian citizen when he competed in 1904, being granted US citizenship in 1917.
The International Olympic Committee considers Norwegian-American wrestlers Charles Ericksen and Bernhoff Hansen to have competed for the United States. Each man won a gold medal. In 2012, Norwegian historians however found documentation showing that Ericksen did not receive American citizenship until March 22, 1905, and that Hansen, who was registered as an "alien" as late as 1925, probably never received American citizenship. The historians have therefore petitioned the IOC to have the athletes registered as Norwegians. In May 2013, it was reported that the Norwegian Olympic Committee had filed a formal application for changing the nationality of the wrestlers in the IOC's medal database; as of April 2018, no decision has yet been made.
Francis Gailey competed in 1904 as an Australian and immigrated to America in 1906, sailing to San Francisco in the SS Sonoma. He worked as a banker in California, lived for a time in Ontario, Canada, where he married Mary Adams, and finally settled in 1918 in southern California, managing orange-grove plantations.
Gustav Thiefenthaler was born in Switzerland but the family moved to the United States when he was young. He represented the South Broadway AC in St. Louis. At the Olympics, Tiefenthaler wrestled one bout and lost, but earned a bronze medal for his efforts. He was still a Swiss citizen in 1904; the IOC, however, still attributes his medals to the United States.
The IOC also lists French-American Albert Corey as a United States competitor for his marathon silver medal, but (together with four undisputed Americans) as part of a mixed team for the team race silver medal.
Other sources list the above athletes as competitors for their country of birth rather than the United States.
- Olympic Games celebrated in the United States
- Christen, Barbara S.; Steven Flanders (November 2001). Cass Gilbert, Life and Work: Architect of the Public Domain. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 257. ISBN 978-0-393-73065-4. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
- "The Olympic Summer Games Factsheet" (PDF). International Olympic Committee. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
- Stead, W. T. (1901). The Americanization of the World. Horace Markley. p. 341.
- Cronin, Brian (August 10, 2010). "Sports Legend Revealed: A marathon runner nearly died". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
- Abbott, Karen. "The 1904 Olympic Marathon May Have Been the Strangest Ever". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
- Martin, David E.; Gynn, Roger W. H. (2000). The Olympic Marathon. p. 50. ISBN 9780880119696.
- The IOC site for the 1904 Olympic Games gives the figure of 91 events, while the IOC database lists 94. Probably this discrepancy in IOC data is consequence that the figure 91 just derived from the "1904 Olympic Games — Analysis and Summaries" publication of Bill Mallon, who used his own determination of which sports and events should be considered as Olympic.
- Healey, Jim. "Glen Echo County Club". golfclubatlas.com. Accessed July 7, 2010.
- 1904 Summer Olympics men's springboard diving results. – Sports-reference.com. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- 1904 Summer Olympics swimming results. – Sports-reference.com. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- 1904 Summer Olympics water polo results. Sports-reference.com. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- St. Louis County, Missouri 2002 Department of Parks and Recreation report. Archived June 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. p. 103. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- "CONTESTS AT THE OARS; THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGATTA—ROWING AT PAWTUCKET" (PDF). The New York Times. June 25, 1882. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- "SPORTING AFFAIRS". Chicago Daily Tribune. May 11, 1885. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
- Washington University in St. Louis profile of Francis Field. – accessed October 4, 2010.
- Washington University in St. Louis profile of Francis Gymnasium. – accessed October 4, 2010.
- St. Louis, Missouri city profile of Forest Park. – accessed October 4, 2010.
- Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. p. 213. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. pp. 222–9, 233–47. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. pp. 231, 245. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- Spalding's report of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Archived August 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. pp. 229, 231. Accessed October 4, 2010.
- Mallon, Bill (1998). "1904 Olympic Games – Analysis and Summaries" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
- "Italy at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
- "Norway at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
- "Newfoundland at the 1904 St. Louis Summer Games". Sports Reference.
- Historical Dictionary of the Olympic Movement – Italy. books.google.com. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
- "Her er beviset som endrer norsk idrettshistorie". NRK. August 14, 2012.
- "USA-guld 1904 var Norges". Svenska Dagbladet. August 14, 2012.
- "Norges OL-historie skrives på nytt". Nettavisen. May 3, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1904 Summer Olympics.|
- "St Louis 1904". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.
- "Results and Medalists — 1904 Summer Olympics". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.
- The Olympic Games 1904, Charles J.P. Lucas
- Spalding's Athletic Almanac for 1905
- Competitions on Anthropology Days
- Photos of the 1904 Olympics from the Missouri History Museum
- the memory palace podcast episode about 1904 olympic marathon
| Summer Olympic Games
III Olympiad (1904)