ST. LOUIS — Two new sculptures are aimed at helping preserve St. Louis’ unique place in the history of the Olympics.
St. Louis Public Radio reports that the St. Louis Sports Commission plans to place two Olympic sculptures at the venues for the 1904 games, which were hosted by St. Louis in the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.
The Olympic rings were not designed until 1913. Michael Loynd, chairman of the commission’s Olympic Committee, said the International Olympic Committee gave consent to place the sculptures in St. Louis.
“We were the first to start the gold, silver, and bronze medal — that started here in St. Louis,” Loynd said. “The first African-American, the first Native American, the first handicapped person, the first U.S. woman received a gold medal, all here in St. Louis.”
Three-time cross-country Olympian Craig Virgin, who grew up in the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis, said he’s proud that so many Olympic athletes have come from the St. Louis area.
“I don’t think many people recognize that fact,” Virgin said. “There’s way more Olympians here than most people realize because they just don’t get much profile. We’re not baseball, football, or basketball.”
Perhaps the best known Olympic athlete from the St. Louis area is longtime track standout Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois. She said she hopes the sculptures inspire young people to learn more about the Olympics and the athletes who participated in them.
Another part of the plan calls for interactive signs to mark the locations of specific 1904 Olympic events, such as swimming, rowing, even golf.
Information from: KWMU-FM, http://www.kwmu.org