The Olympic Games, which were held in St. Louis in 1904, were a far cry from the modern brilliance of the leading four-year outings in terms of level of conduct. Now it is even difficult to imagine that less than a hundred athletes in total came to the venue of the competition in Missouri, which is quite comparable with the composition of modern delegations from Kenya or Algeria. Also, most of the athletes came to participate in the same type of program: the marathon race. It was there that one of the main curiosities in the history of the Olympic movement happened.
TAXI TO PEDESTAL
The American Frederic Lorz, having not overcome even a third of the distance, faced a serious problem. Due to leg cramps and severe dehydration, he already wanted to end the fight and go to rest, but suddenly help was on time for him. The versions of who was the benefactor in the car that he picked up Fred differ: one of the caring locals helped him or a prudent representative of the team. One way or another, Lorz was brought to the finish line. Shortly before the cherished line, the car of a volunteer assistant broke down, and Lortz, who was resting, proudly finished the distance on foot, finally realizing that the situation could and should be taken advantage of.
At the finish line, Frederick was greeted with a standing ovation, and was personally presented with a medal by Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, who was present at the competition as the guest of honor. True, the deception was revealed very quickly, and now the ability to run fast still came in handy for Lortz. He quickly left the finish line and successfully lost himself among the assembled fans. Later, Frederick claimed that he just decided to joke, but no one believed him.
The champion was declared by another US representative, Thomas Hicks, who has another unique story related to this marathon. In those years, sports pharmacology was not only in its infancy, it simply did not exist. And the coaches helped their wards, as they say, who is in what quantity. In particular, the strongest poison – strychnine, of course, in meager doses, was considered an “effective” stimulant. But in the second half of the distance, Hicks’s team realized that they had gone too far with such a peculiar drug and began to weld brandy from him. In modern times, this sounds crazy, but after the end, the doctors found out that, most likely, such “therapy” saved Thomas’s life. Hicks completed the distance, barely moving his legs from the amount of alcohol he had drunk. And later he was very surprised that he became a champion.
Photo source: IOC
THE RETURN OF THE MISTIFIER
After the scandal, Lortz had to fight for a long time to regain his good name. In the heat of pursuit, he was immediately disqualified, but refused to quit the sport and went to court. The first appeal did not give the desired result, but the second was satisfied. After that, Frederick managed to win the most prestigious Boston Marathon, proving to everyone that he could win from a distance and honestly.