CEREMONY TO INCLUDE AREA OLYMPIANS AND 1968 DECATHLON GOLD MEDALIST BILL TOOMEY
ST. LOUIS – Sept. 24, 2018 – It has been 114 years in the making. On Friday, Sept. 28, the Olympic Rings will be permanently displayed in St. Louis. Their presence will commemorate the region’s role as America’s first Olympic city and its ongoing contributions to the Olympic Movement.
A ceremony unveiling the Rings will take place at 5:45 p.m. near the northeast corner of Washington University’s Francis Field, site of the 1904 Olympic stadium.
Several St. Louis area Olympians will participate in the ceremony, including gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Ray Armstead, Mark Gorski, Michelle Venturella, and Paralympic gold medalist Josh Pauls. Additionally, Bill Toomey, winner of the decathlon at the 1968 Summer Games, will be in attendance. His appearance is of special significance because the decathlon made its Olympic debut at Francis Field during the 1904 Games – and this year marks 50 years since Toomey’s historic gold-medal performance in Mexico City. The 30-minute program will also feature Washington University’s 65-piece Wind Ensemble performing John Williams’ celebrated Olympic Fanfare. The ceremony is open to the public.
The installation of the Rings sculpture – also known as an Olympic spectacular – is part of a multi-initiative project undertaken by the St. Louis Sports Commission to raise the profile and impact of
St. Louis’ Olympic affiliation. Last fall, the Sports Commission’s Olympic Legacy Committee received permission from the International Olympic Committee to display the Rings, one of the most iconic sports symbols in the world, at the venues where the 1904 Summer Games took place. This was a groundbreaking step as St. Louis previously did not have the ability to use the Rings because its Games predated their existence.
“The Olympic Rings are a timeless global symbol of unity and achievement,” said Michael Loynd, chairman of the St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee. “In that same Olympic spirit, we hope they inspire our community to think more globally and thoughtfully about each other, and come together to achieve great things. These Rings at Wash U are a testament to how big we as a city can dream.”
The IOC is allowing St. Louis to display two spectaculars at sites historically connected to the 1904 Games. The first was approved for Washington University, home to multiple events during the
St. Louis Olympics. The spectacular is located at the end of Olympian Way and next to Francis Field, the oldest modern-day Olympic stadium in active use. A site for the second spectacular is to be announced.
The spectacular at Washington University spans 16 feet by 9 feet. Its base replicates an Olympic medal podium, a nod to the St. Louis Games being the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals. The spectacular was designed by SWT Design and fabricated by Engraphix – both St. Louis area companies.
“The 1904 Olympics are forever tied to the history of St. Louis and Washington University, and I am very pleased that there will now be a beautiful and permanent tangible reminder on our campus of these historic Games,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “This memorial to the Games will no doubt become a favorite meeting space on campus, and I am sure that, ‘meet me at the Rings’ will quickly become part of the Washington University vocabulary. We could not be more proud to be the home of this important new reminder of St. Louis’ Olympic legacy and its connection to the international community.”
In addition to the Olympic spectacular, the Sports Commission’s Olympic Legacy Committee has several other initiatives in the works intended to inspire and unite the region around Olympism and the biggest sporting event in the world:
- Interpretive signage will soon be installed at the venues which hosted 1904 Olympic events. Prominent markers will highlight each site’s role in the Games along with notable facts, athlete stories and historical context. Signage will also mark the Olympic Marathon route.
- Grassroots and educational programs will be created to engage the community, especially young people, in Olympism.
- The Sports Commission will leverage St. Louis’ distinction as an Olympic City to pursue future events that impact the community such as Olympic Trials, national governing body championships, torch relays, other special events, and opportunities associated with the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
As host of the third Olympiad, St. Louis is one of only three cities in the United States to host the Summer Games, and one of only 43 cities in the world to host the Olympics.
“We are in exclusive company, forever having a place at an international table that includes the world’s greatest cities,” said Sports Commission President Frank Viverito. “Our region’s role in the Olympic Movement is something to celebrate, and we want to make a transformative difference through the opportunities we have as an Olympic city.”
The initiatives of the St. Louis Olympic Legacy Project, including the Olympic spectacular, are funded through private donations. A lead gift from the Interco Charitable Trust has funded a significant portion of the project’s first phase. Those interested in contributing to the effort can make a tax-deductible donation to the St. Louis Sports Foundation and specify it be directed to the Olympic Legacy Project. Donations can be made online at stlouis1904legacy.org.