Monday, August 02, 2004
Drugs and sport
As the Olympic juggernaut is about to overwhelm us, here is an amusing account of the 1904 St Louis Summer olympics. The Marathon was a particular balls up with the initial winner being disqualified for hitching a lift. The eventual winner was a Thomas Hicks (pictured above) who finished the race in some distress:
It seems that Hicks had begged to lie down about ten miles from the finish line. Instead, his trainers gave him an oral dose of strychnine sulfate mixed into raw egg white to keep him going. This was not enough - they had to give him several more doses, as well as brandy, along the way. By the end of the race, Hicks had to actually be supported by two of his trainers so that he could cross the finish line (essentially, he was carried over the line with his feet moving back-and-forth). Hicks was very close to death's door. It took four doctor's to get him in good enough shape just to leave the grounds, eventually falling asleep on a trolley.
The accounts of other competitors in the Marathon such as the the Cuban Postman and the first two black Africans to compete in the olympics are worth reading.
via Black Triangle