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The Modern Olympics

1904 -- St. Louis, The United States of America
625 athletes, 13 nations

Like the Paris Games, the Olympics in St. Louis were ill conceived and held along with the World's Fair. Again the Games were a sideshow. Many foreign athletes didn't bother attending. Five hundred and twenty-four of the 681 athletes were from the United States. Some of the events, such as cycling and boxing, only had American athletes entered. And although 84 per cent of the medal winners were American, not even all of the best American athletes attended. Few people, including St. Louis residents, seemed to care about the Games.

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The most disturbing event of the Games occurred on the Anthropology Days. On these days so-called "savages," including native North Americans and pygmies from Africa, were taken from their World's Fair exhibit and made to compete in Olympic-style events. The American organizers then used the spectacle of the confused and untrained people struggling to perform in sports they were not familiar with to point out their belief that some races are superior to others.

Canadian Highlights: Etienne Desmarteau, a Montreal policeman, became the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal. He won gold for throwing a 56-pound weight. He was also the only non-American at the Games to win a track and field medal. Desmarteau almost didn't make it to the Games because the Montreal Police Department would not give him a two-week leave. He decided to attend the Games anyway and was fired from his job. The department reinstated him after his win.

Canada's second medal of the games was a silver for the men's eight from the Argonaut Rowing Club of Toronto. They earned it just by showing up and finishing their race behind the American team, the only other team in the event. Other highlights included Canadian George Seymour's gold medal-winning golf game against 75 other competitors. Canada also earned gold medals in soccer and lacrosse.

Medal Count: Gold 4, Silver 1, Bronze 1

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