Above, tug of war competition in the 1904 Summer Olympics
10 Olympic Athletes Born in Peoria...
- Amanda Adkins, Swimming (born 1976)
- Tim Broe, Athletics (born 1977)
- Walter Dray, Athletics (1886-1973)
- Herbert Jamison, Athletics (1875-1938)
- Carla McGhee, Basketball (born 1968)
- Teri Montefusco, Gymnastics (born 1941)
- Don Piper, Basketball (1911-1963)
- Matt Savoie, Figure Skating (born 1980)
- Orin Upshaw, Tug Of War (1874-1937)
- Ron Zinn, Athletics (1939-1965)
Did you know that Tug of War was once an Olympic sport? (See #9 above.)
According to Wikipedia, “tug of war was contested as a team event in the Summer Olympics at every Olympiad from 1900 to 1920.” Peoria native Orin Upshaw took home the silver medal in the 1904 Olympics, held on the Washington University campus in St. Louis, Missouri—the first time the Olympic Games were held outside of Europe. Again, according to Wikipedia:
European tension caused by the Russo-Japanese War, and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis, kept most of the world's top athletes away. Only 62 of the 650 athletes who competed came from outside North America, and only 12–15 nations were represented in all. 80% of competitors were from the United States, and in over half of the events these were the only competitors. ...
At the 1904 Summer Olympics, a tug of war tournament was contested. Six teams from three nations competing, with a total of 30 athletes involved. The four American teams took the top four places.
Chicago originally won the bid to host the 1904 Summer Olympics, but the organizers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (aka the St. Louis World's Fair) would not accept another international event duringthe same timeframe. Eventually, Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, gave in to pressure and awarded the games to St. Louis.
The 1904 Games lasted for four and a half months!
“Linda Branan: Skating to Success”
Finally, a flashback to The Peoria Woman (published 1990-2008), and a 2004 profile on Linda Branan, who coached Olympic figure skater Matt Savoie at Owens Center in Peoria for many years.
When Linda Branan began coaching figure skaters in central Illinois back in 1971, getting all the way to the Winter Olympics with one of them never entered her mind… "I just really wanted to be a good coach, bringing skaters up to the level they wanted to skate,” Branan recalls of those early days. “As far as thinking about the Olympics, or anything like that, no… I never did think that far, at least not with those kids.” …
But when she took on a nine-year-old named Matt Savoie in early 1990, her career—her whole life, really—was destined to change forever. PS