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In 1900, the Olympics in Paris played second fiddle to the World's Fair. In 1904, a similar thing happened. The US Olympic Committee, following the suggestion of President Theodore Roosevelt, voted to move the 1904 Games from Chicago to St. Louis after the organisation of another international exhibition, the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition. The Games took place from July 1 to November 23.
But the mix of the events produced another organisational disaster.
Only about 650 athletes from just a dozen countries competed in St. Louis, and about 580 of them were Americans. The long Atlantic Ocean crossing discouraged many teams from showing up.
But the Americans who made the journey watched their fellow citizens win about 85 per cent of the medals.
A scandal erupted: The winner of the marathon, American Fred Lorz, was disqualified for accepting a ride in a car during the race. Initially, he was hailed a true hero at the finish. But Alice Roosevelt, the President's daughter, had photographed his ride, and he was later disqualified. Fellow American Thomas Hicks received the gold, even though he also was aided by two shots of strychnine and several glasses of cognac. At that time, anti-doping controls were nonexistent.
For the first time, winners received gold medals. Americans won the majority, winning 78 gold and 239 medals in total.
But, as in Paris, the Olympic Games did not really come to life. Too many categories were too spread out, and there were too many other attractions at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition. Only about 2,000 spectators watched the actual sporting events.
Hahn: The Milwaukee Meteor
The big star of the St. Louis Games was American Archie Hahn, who won three gold medals in the 60 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres.
In the last race, the University of Michigan student, nicknamed "The Milwaukee Meteor," set a time of 21.6 seconds, an Olympic record that remained unbeaten for 28 years.
Born on September 14, 1880, Archibald "Archie" Hahn discovered track and field at the age of 19. He was signed up by university representatives, who saw ability in the small and thin athlete who showed he had powerful legs at a county fair.
Hahn already had won the 60m and 200m events when he lined up for the final of the 100m. Despite a strong wind, the American won easily in a time of 11.0 seconds, two-tenths of a second ahead of fellow American Nathaniel Cartmell.
The American sprinter, a forerunner of the great stars America would later produce in this discipline, also won the 100m in the intercalated Games in 1906.