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OLYMPIC RINGS UNVEILED

An new sculpture is on display after an unveiling ceremony Friday, Sept. 28 for a monument celebrating St. Louis' and Washington University's legacy of being the 1904 Summer Olympic site. The monument, on the Washington University campus, is a sculpture called an Olympic "Spectacular” representing the Olympic Rings. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

First came the rings, now the name change.

In a effort to wed St. Louis to its Olympic history, Francis Field at Washington University will get a new name on Saturday:

"Francis Olympic Field."

The ceremony will be at halftime of the 5 p.m. football game between Wash U. and North Central (Ill.).

The moniker modification is part of an effort by the St. Louis Sports Commission to raise the profile of St. Louis as an Olympic city.

Last September, the commission and the university unveiled "Spectacular," a sculpture of the five interlocked Olympic Rings, at the northeast corner of the stadium.

Slated to be on scene Saturday are seven area Olympians: soccer players John Carenza and Ty Keough; speed skaters Jim Chapin and Brendan Eppert; weightlifter Derrick Crass; triathlete Sarah Haskins; and softball player Michelle Venturella, who is now the university's head softball coach.

University Chancellor  Andrew D. Martin, sports commission president Frank Viverito and Mike Loynd, chair of the commission's Olympic Legacy Committee, also are on the special-guest list.

St. Louis was the first city in the Western Hemisphere to ever host the Olympics, and only one of three U.S. cities to ever host a Summer Olympics.

The games here were the first Olympics to award gold, silver and bronze medals, and the first to feature boxing, diving, freestyle wrestling and the decathlon.

It also was the first time a black American competed in the Olympics. George Coleman Poage won two bronze medals in hurdles events and then stayed in St. Louis for 10 years and taught at Sumner High School.

Francis Field is the oldest modern Olympic stadium still in use and served as the main stadium for the 1904 games, hosting track and field, archery, cycling, gymnastics and weightlifting events.

The venue is named for David R. Francis, a Missouri governor and Wash U. alum who helped bring the games to St. Louis.

In 2020, the commission plans to install signage which will identify all venues that hosted 1904 Olympic events, as well as the marathon race route.

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