Wednesday, 30 July 2008


Unintentionally I appear to be visiting the sites of previous Olympics. So far I have been to Olympia in Greece (776 BC), London (1908,1948), Paris (1900, 1924), St Louis (1904), Amsterdam (1928), Berlin (1936) and Barcelona (1992). I also aim to be in Los Angeles which was 1984. The Olympics in St Louis was part of the much larger World Fair which was held in 1904 and I thought that these were unique events that were held rarely but there seems to be a large number of them (full list here).

The world fair covered a huge area with over 1500 buildings as different countries tried to show off their new inventions and also trying to avoid getting invaded or taken over. Even the British Army was allowed in to show off their drill skills with a Trooping of the Colour each day. My favourite story comes from the Olympic marathon competition.

First to arrive was Frederick Lorz who actually was trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes after he was forced to drop out of the race after nine miles. 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.

Thomas Hicks was the first to cross the finish-line legally after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy. He was supported by his trainers and when he crossed the finish but this was allowed to stand. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and might have died had he not been treated by several doctors.

Felix Carbajal stopped off in an orchard to have a snack on some apples which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to take a nap but despite becoming ill from the apples he finished in fourth place.

The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics who were two Tswana tribesmen named Len Taunyane and Jan Mashiani. They weren't there to compete in the Olympics but in a sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit. Len Taunyane finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth but this was considered a disappointment as many people were sure Len Taunyane could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by ferocious dogs.

Just had the remnants of Hurricane Dolly sweep through St Louis washing out an outdoor concert we were going to go to.