St. Louis had a strong connection to the Olympic Games, from the Olympic Spectacular at Francis Field to the many decorated athletes to come from St. Louis
ST. LOUIS — The bond between St. Louis and the Olympics begins at Francis Field. It’s the site of the 1904 games which were the first to be held in America.
That year the games lasted five months with events from July through November. You will find the Olympics Spectacular not far from the stadium.
St. Louis has had many Olympians. Some well-known names include East St. Louis native Jackie Joyner-Kersee who is a three-time Olympian and a four-time gold medal winner.
“To stand on the top podium in 1998 for the very first time, it is an out-of-body experience,” Joyner-Kersee said.
East St. Louis native Dawn Harper-Nelson also knows what that feeling is like.
“I definitely had a fire,” Harper-Nelson said. “I went in with the edge of ‘I know that it was my time.'”
Harper won gold in 2008 and silver in 2012 in the hurdles.
Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes played baseball for Team USA when the game was a demonstration sport in 1988.
“I was there with Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Carl Lewis and Flo Jo and the Dream Team.” Benes said.
East St. Louis boxing coach Arthur Johnson boxed for Team USA at those games in South Korea.
Sarah Haskins also understands the Olympic feeling. She competed on the women’s triathlon in 2008.
“For me, I just achieved one of the biggest dreams of my life,” Haskins said.
Ballwin diver Tyler Downs is in Tokyo right now.
Former Chaminade coach Kelvin Lee coached current Team USA basketball player Jayson Tatum.
“His skillset is such that … its unbelievable,” Lee said.
Julia Kohnen-Griffey did not make the 2020 U.S. marathon team but she is not giving up on her dream. 2024 is not too far away.
“Now I’m just excited to see what can happen if I put all my focus into marathon,” Kohnen-Griffey said.
It’s not just the athletes there now or who have been. There are also young ones all across our area who are cycling, climbing, swimming, sprinting and doing more all in pursuit of their Olympic dream.
Originally Appeared Here