The History of World Expositions

The Saint Louis World Exposition 1904
"A strong body made for a strong mind" â The third Olympic Games

Year: 1904
City: St. Louis
Country: USA
Duration: 30th April - 1st December 1904

The Olympic Games

The future stadium of Washington University (Francis Field), located in the north-west of the exposition site, was the venue for the third Olympic Games for six months as from 14 May 1904. According to the requirements of the international Olympic Committee, all sports contests that were held during the exposition were considered part of the Olympic Games. The focus of attention, however, was on contests in the disciplines of running, throwing and jumping which were held between 29 August and 3 September. Without having any national ties, the athletes competed as individuals or as the representatives of sports clubs. Some notable achievements entered the history of the Olympic Games. George Coleman Poage, the first Afro-American to compete, reached third place in the 200 and 400 metre hurdles. The marathon caused a stir in a completely different way after a runner, who was the first to cross the post, had to be disqualified as he had had himself transported by car for some part of the way. The actual winner, Thomas J. Hicks, on the other hand, provided the first doping scandal as early as in 1904. During the race his coaches had supplied him with strychnine, protein and brandy to demonstrate how chemicals could enhance the body's performance.

What appears particularly dubious from today's point of view was the establishment of the "Anthropological Days", when members of the so-called "primitive" peoples of America were forced to compete against each other in disciplines for which they had not trained. To propagate the motto "a strong body made for a strong mind" James E. Sullivan, the head of the section for physical culture, organised a side programme with lectures on health, sport and training. Due to the social revaluation of sport, physical fitness was interpreted as being the condition for progress in science and the basis for the solution of social problems.

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