The initial plan was that Chicago would host the games but it was feared that the Olympics would adversely affect attendance at the World Fair.
The organisers threathened to schedule athletic competitions in conjunction with the Fair if the Olympics were not transfereed to St. Louis. Thus,these games were held as part of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.
It was most unfortunate that the organisers of the Games in St Louis were even more disorganised than their counterparts at the Paris Games.
There was very little European participation. This was due to tensions caused by the Russo-Japanese War and the difficulty for Europeans to get to St Louis.
A large number of the world’s best athletes did not participate.
Only 681 men from 13 countries attended. The largest contingent was from the United States. Canada also sent a fairly large contingent. Naturally, the US won most of the events including 22 of the 23 athletics events.
In a number of events, all the competitors were from America. This meant that the US national championship was often combined with the Olympic championship. The US won 238 of the 300 total medals.
|Three other US track and field athletes –
Archibald Hahn, Jim Lightbody and Harry Hillman won three golds each.Harry Hillman (U.S.) on the left,
who later became coach at Dartmouth, won in the 200 metre hurdles, the 400 metre hurdles,
and the 400m run.James Lightbody (U.S.) on the right,
won in the 800 metres , the 1500 metres,
and the 2500 metres steeplechase. He gained an award for amassing the most individual points.
|Emil Rausch of Germany was the top foreign athlete winning medals in three swimming events.
He two golds (880 yards freestyle and the 1 mile freestyle), and a bronze in the 200m freestyle.
Rausch was one of the few Europeans to win Gold medals in 1904.Hungary’s Zoltan Halmay won two golds for swimming.
The Games ended with contests organised by the World Exhibition enthnological department in what was described an anthropological competition. Sioux Indians, African pygmies and other coloured people competed in events like stone throwing and steeplechase running. These ‘competitions’ were regarded as discriminatory by de Coubertin.
It was only the Interim Olympics in Athens two years later (the Intercalated Games) that restored some dignity to the Olympic movement.These 1906 Games ensured the Olympics’ eventual survival.Corrie Gardner from Melbourne was Australia’s sole representative at the 1904 St Louis Olympics.
Had he not participated, Australia would not be able to claim to have been represented at every Olympiad. Gardner was best known as an Australian Rules footballer .
He competed in the 110m hurdles and the long jump. He finished fourth in the 110m hurdles and was unplaced in the long jump. Both these events were won by Americans.
He was extremely disillusioned when he discovered how poor the organisation and the facilities were.
Accomodation for the athletes was most inadequate. He had to sleep in a tent in a city park.