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1904 Olympics, St. Louis

St. Louis was the first American city to host the Olympics. The 1904 Olympic games looked a bit different than the games today, but in many ways the same athleticism and spirit can be found in the photographs and stories from 1904.
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The 1904 Olympics in St. Louis marked not only the first time the Games were hosted by an American city, but also the first time that freestyle wrestling made an appearance in the Olympics. The long history of Olympic wrestling is what has left so many athletes and fans shocked when the IOC announced this week that the sport would be thrown out of the Games. Read more on the Missouri History Museum's blog: http://historyhappenshere.org/archives/7342#

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Ending What Started in St. Louis

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George Poage, second from the right, in the first heat of the 60-meter run. Poage was the first African American to medal at the Olympics. Photo by Jessie Tarbox Beals (attributed), 1904. Missouri History Museum.

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A Legacy in Dispute

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One sport made its first and only Olympic appearance at the 1904 games in St. Louis. That sport was the plunge for distance, a kind of long jump for divers. Competitors jumped from a platform into a lake and glided as far as they could underwater without using their arms or legs. William Dickey of the New York Athletic Club earned the unique title of Olympic champion in the plunge for distance with a winning distance of 62 feet, 6 inches.

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A Long Way from London

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Perikles Kakousis was a Greek weightlifter who won gold in the two-hand lift at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. He was heralded in the local press for coming “thousands of miles to carry modern Olympic honors back to his native land.”

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Not So Far from London

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1904 Olympic Marathon participants, Len Tau (left) and Jan Mashiani of the Tswana tribe of South Africa.

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Ray Ewry won eight gold medals in the 1900, 1904, and 1908 Games, and remained the American with the most individual gold medals until Michael Phelps surpassed him. Ewry was struck with polio when he was seven and was told that he may never walk again. One doctor said he should try jumping exercises to build the strength of his legs. He went from being unable to walk to becoming one of the most celebrated jumpers in Olympic history.

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Not So Far from London

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"A. G. Spalding and Bros., exhibit of a model gymnasium; showing a pair of parallel bars, particularly commended by the entire body of Turn Verein representatives who used them in the Olympic Gymnastic Competitions."

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1904 Olympics: 440 yard Olympic championship, Daniels of the New York Athletic Club starting.

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Thomas J. Hicks of Cambridge, Massachusetts YMCA leading the 1904 Olympic Marathon runners at the 20 mile mark.

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A number of sports featured in the 1904 Olympic games look unusual today. To many, tug of war seems like a competition more suited for elementary school field days rather than the Olympics, but from 1900 to 1920 it was a feature of all Games, including those held in St. Louis.

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A Long Way from London

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