Wacky Olympic marathon

SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - May 18, 2021 - 12:00am

The 1904 St. Louis (Missouri) Olympic Marathon is probably one of the the wackiest in history.  But before we go into details, let’s tackle some facts on the Games. The St. Louis Olympics drew 651 athletes (645 men and 6 women) with only 6 sports (91 events). The Americans won almost all the gold medals, 78 in all while second placer Germany, third placer Cuba and fourth placer Canada each won four golds.  Cuba won five of six contests in fencing while Germany and Hungary (fifth placer), each won 3 medals in swimming.  Only three countries other than the US, took part in swimming and two others in fencing.  Great Britain managed only one gold medal.  Now back to the marathon. American marathoner Fred Lorz almost got away with the victory in th race, he was standing for a photograph with Alice Roosevelt, Teddy’s daughter, and was ready to receive the gold medal when it was found out that Lorz had quit running nine miles into the race and hitched a car ride for 11 miles and then  begun to run again.  Lorz was given a lifetime ban by the AAU, but was reinstated later and won the Boston marathon in 1905 (“Wala kaha nisakay si Lorz?).  The race was held on a hot humid day with temperatures topping 90 degrees, with 32 starters.  18 dropped out.  British-born Thomas  Hicks, running for the U.S, was declared winner but he also had a controversial victory.  He took deadly shots of strychnine and sipped brandy while devouring raw eggs.

Amusing Race

Len Taunyane of South Africa who finished in ninth place could have done better if he had not been chased by dogs nearly a kilometer of the course. Two other African runners, passed by organizers as tribesmen, were actually students from Orange Free State in South Africa. Albert Coray, a Frenchman, won the silver medal but did not have the right paper works, so he was listed with the US team.  Cuban postmaster Felix Carbajal, after losing money gambling, had to hitch-hike to St. Louis.  He arrived at the starting line, wearing heavy street shoes, long-sleeved shirt and long trousers.  He cut off the trousers to make into shorts.  During the race, he stopped to eat some apples given by spectators, that turned out to be rotten.  This  cause him discomfort (bum stomach) but after resting, he resumed running and finished fourth.

Drunk Driving

BOBBY PHILLS of the Charlotte Hornets and teammate David Wesley drag-raced their cars after a practice in 2000.  As their speeds exceeded 75 mph in a 45 mph zone, Phills 1997 Porsche 993 Cabriolet, skidded into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with another car, killing Phills instantly.

DRAZEN PETROVIC Croatia’s top national player who became a 20-plus-point-a-game scorer for the  New Jersey  Nets, died in a car crash in Germany.  He was posthumously inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.  Malik Sealy, Minnesota Timberwolves guard, died when his car was crashed into by a drunk driver.

BRUCE KIMBALL  of the U.S was known as the “Comeback Kid” because he almost died in an automobile accident in 1981 with a drunk driver.  He recovered to win he 1984 Los Angeles Olympic silver medal in platform diving.  But in 1988, Kimball killed two teenagers in Florida while driving drunk.  He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING lost eight members of the men’s cross-country team on September 16,2001 when the station wagon they were driving, was hit head-on at 75 mph by a pick-up truck driven by another Wyoming student, a member of the school’s rodeo team who was drunk and who survived.

Did you know?

ABD-EL KADER 2AAG was doing  quite well in the 1950 Tour De France but started to melt under the intense heat on the Perfignan-Nimes stage of the race.  He needed a drink, so when he saw one of the spectators lining the route, drinking from a bottle of wine, he stopped and asked for the bottle but he refused to give it back and drank the whole  contents. After feeling tipsy, he rested for a while and tried to sober up.  Afterwards, feeling re-energized he got back in the bike and pedaled off again in the direction he just came from.  “Nahubog si Abd-El Kader unya na saag,  nibalik sa agi”.

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