Thomas Hicks (athlete)

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Thomas Hicks
1904 Thomas J Hicks.jpg
Personal information
Birth nameThomas John Hicks
Born(1876-01-11)January 11, 1876
Birmingham, Great Britain
DiedJanuary 28, 1952(1952-01-28) (aged 76)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
SportLong-distance running
Thomas Hicks
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1904 St. Louis Marathon
Hicks and supporters at the 1904 Summer Olympics

Thomas John Hicks (January 11, 1876 – January 28, 1952)[1] was an American track and field athlete. He won the marathon at the Olympic Games in 1904.[2]


Hicks, a brass worker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, was born in England. He was the winner of a remarkable marathon race at the 1904 Summer Olympics, held as part of the World Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.

Conditions were bad, the course being a dirt track, with large clouds of dust produced by the accompanying vehicles. Hicks was not the first to cross the finish line, trailing Fred Lorz. However, Lorz had abandoned the race after 9 miles. After covering much of the course by car, he re-entered the race 5 miles before the finish. This was discovered by the officials, who disqualified Lorz, who claimed it had been a joke.

Had the race been run under current rules, Hicks would also have been disqualified for using strychnine: his assistants had given him a dose of 1/60 of a grain (roughly 1 mg) of strychnine[3] and some brandy because he was flagging badly during the race; the first dose of strychnine did not revive him for long, so he was given another. As a result, he collapsed after crossing the finishing line. Another dose might have been fatal. Strychnine has been forbidden for athletes since the late 1960s when the International Olympic Committee started testing them for drugs,[4] and the last known use of strychnine occurred at the 2016 Summer Olympics.[5]

Hicks finished in sixth place at the Boston Marathon in both 1901 and 1902. In the Fall of the latter year he relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota for work, and while there became captain of the Minneapolis YMCA cross-country team that won the state championship.[6] Hicks returned to Boston in the spring of 1904 and finished second in the Boston Marathon that year. He dropped out during the following year's race;[7] the year after, he began walking at Wellesley, and walked all the way to the finish.[8] The 1905 Boston Marathon was legitimately won by Lorz. However, on June 30, 1906, Hicks finished three minutes ahead of Alexander Thibeau to win a marathon at an Amateur Athletic Union meet in Chicago (3:02).[9] The next year he finished thirteenth at the Boston Marathon and sixth at the Chicago Marathon conducted by the Illinois Athletic Club. He finished sixteenth at the same race in the following year, by which time he had returned to Minneapolis.[10] On January 16, 1909 he was leading a marathon at Chicago under terrible weather conditions for more than eight miles before being forced to retire with a stitch; the race was won by Sidney Hatch.[11]

In later years, he worked on mining claims at Ingolf, Ontario,[12] and lived at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where his two brothers had settled. He became a naturalized Canadian,[13] and died at Winnipeg in 1952 at the age of seventy-six.


  1. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Tom Hicks". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2020-04-17.
  2. ^ "Thomas Hicks". Olympedia. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Deafening Roar of the Shrug". The New York Times. July 29, 2007.
  4. ^ "1967: Creation of the IOC Medical Commission". Archived from the original on February 24, 2023. Retrieved February 24, 2023.
  5. ^ Shine, Ossian (18 August 2016). "Weightlifter stripped of medal for doping with rat poison". Reuters. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Hicks Victorious in Chicago Run: Cambridge Boy Leads Field of 30 in Marathon, His Time Being 3h 2m." Boston Daily Globe, July 1, 1906, p. 12.
  7. ^ "A New Marathon Champion: Frederick Lorz of the Mohawk Athletic Club of New York Captured the Great Run in an Exciting Contest". Boston Evening Transcript. Boston. April 20, 1905. p. 4. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
  8. ^ Derderian, Tom (1994). Boston Marathon – The History of the World's Premier Running Event. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers. pp. 37. ISBN 0-87322-491-4.
  9. ^ "Chicago Marathon and Meet". American Gymnasia and Athletic Record. Boston: American Gymnasia Co. 2 (11): 249. July 1906. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  10. ^ Martin, David E.; Gynn, Roger W.H. (2000). The Olympic Marathon. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics. pp. 53. ISBN 0-88011-969-1.
  11. ^ "MARATHON TO SIDNEY HATCH - I.A.C. Runner Takes Amateur Event in 3:16:15. C. HEATH A GOOD SECOND. Thibeau, of First Regiment, Victim of Pain in Side." The Chicago Daily Tribune, January 17, 1909, p. 1.
  12. ^ U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Registration State: Minnesota; Registration County: Hennepin; Roll: 1675619; Draft Board: 08
  13. ^ Voter's List, Winnipeg South Centre Polling division No. 8, 1945 and 1949.

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