Remarkable tales of grit amidst chaos

Remarkable tales of grit amidst chaos

Flashback St Louis 1904

The Olympic Games continued to tread a rough road as the third edition arrived in 1904. The United States were awarded the event and St Louis was chosen the venue. But the organisers blundered again, holding the Games alongside a World Fair, as they had done four years earlier.

A chaotic competition ensued, with the event spread over four and a half months. Participation too suffered a blow, with many countries not bothering to travel to the United States. Just 651 athletes from 12 nations competed in the Games.

Boxing and freestyle wrestling were added to the programme for the first time. It was also in St Louis that gold, silver and bronze medals began to be awarded to the first three places.

Despite the organisational bungling, the Games had its heroes, scripting tales of grit that have nourished and sustained the Olympic movement over the years. The most remarkable story from St Louis was that of American gymnast George Eyser who won three gold, two silver and one bronze -- all competing with a wooden left leg. His leg had been amputated after a mishap a few years earlier.

Archie Hahn was the star in track and field. He won three gold medals -- in 60M, 100M and 200M. His 200M Olympic record of 21.6 seconds lasted for 28 years.

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Tales of cheating did touch the early Games, with American Fred Lorz, winner of the marathon, getting disqualified after it was discovered that he had journeyed most part of the race in a car. His compatriot Thomas Hicks was awarded the gold medal.

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