2016 Summer Olympics: From Saint Louis to Rio
Get pumped and patriotic, STL – the opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics are coming soon! While August 5 – 21 will be all about the U-S of A, you can celebrate some extra St. Louis priderooted in the Lou’s rich Olympic history and our hometown Olympians on the road to Rio.
The 1904 St. Louis Olympics: The firstand maybe the strangestOlympic games held in the U.S.
Did you know that the first Olympics held on U.S. soil went down right here in St. Louis? And although the St. Louis Olympics are credited as the third “modern” Olympics, things have changed quite a bit since 1904, according to History.com:
- While today’s Olympics typically last two weeks, the St. Louis Olympics spanned 4.5 months, opening on July 1 and closing on November 23.
- Only 12 countries with 651 athletes participated in the 1904 Olympics, compared to 204 nations bringing 10,768 athletes to London in 2012. However, less than half of all events in 1904 (42 events) included athletes who were not from the US.
- Of the 1904 Olympians, only six were women, as the only sport in which women could compete was archery. In 2012, 4,776 women (and 5,992 men) competed.
With the return of golf, Olympians choosing to opt out amid the Zika virus and controversy regarding the eligibility of Russian athletes, the Games of the XXXI Olympiad are poised to have their share of excitement. However, the 1904 St. Louis Olympics may keep the gold for the most bizarre in Olympic history – because of what transpired during the marathon event:
An American athlete named Frederick Lorz was the first to cross the finish line – after dropping out at mile 9, hitching a ride in a car that broke down at mile 19 and jogging the remaining miles to the finish line. Frederick played along when officials thought he had won the race, but was found out shortly after the medal ceremony.
A Cuban postman arrived last minute to join the race and had to cut his street pants around the knees into shorts. During the race, he detoured to snack on some apples from a nearby orchard. The apples turned out to be rotten, so the postman had to stop running and nap to ward off sickness. He still finished in fourth place.
The first African Americans to compete in the OlympicsTswana tribesmen named Len Tau and Yamasanifinished ninth and twelfth, respectively. Most spectators assume Len would have finished higher in the rankings if he hadn’t been chased a mile off course by aggressive dogs.
STL’s hometown Olympic heroes
Currently, eleven St. Louisans have qualified to represent Team USA (along with a handful of other athletes with close ties to the area). Ranging from track and field to basketball to volleyball to rowing, the Lou is repping across the board.
Check out this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to meet our homegrown Olympians!
Good luck to this year’s Olympians from St. Louisand go, Team USA!