The Little Book of Olympic Inspiration is a collection of quotes and little know facts and stories of Olympic glory that offer encouragement and motivation. The following is titled "Determination:"
If an Olympic medal was awarded for personal determination and ingenuity, It would have to go to Felix Carvajal, an athlete in the 1904 Games, Felix was a Cuban postman who decided that running his daily rounds had prepared him for the Olympic marathon race. Since Cuba had no team, Felix had to personally finance his trip. He did this primarily by running around and around the town square until a crowd gathered. Then he would give a fund-raising speech and accept contributions.
When he finally had enough money to travel to the games in St. Louis, he resigned his job and set sail for New Orleans. Once ashore, he was met by a gambler and robbed of nearly everything he had. Undeterred, he set out to run from New Orleans to St. Louis.
Begging food along the way, he finally arrived in the Olympic City half-starved. The news of his determination arrived before he did and many fellow athletes rallied to his support. Robbed of his running gear, he cut out the arms and legs of his clothing to accommodate the intense heat and humidity. A fellow athlete loaned him a pair of sneakers for the race, but Felix insisted on running in his postman's boots. His unusual athletic wear was a sight.
Because of the oppressive heat, many of the 31 marathon runners did not even finish the race. But Felix remained undeterred and ran far ahead of the peak. Unfortunately, as he passed an orchard he picked an apple and ate it as he ran. The apple gave him such a stomach cramp he had to sit on a curb to recover while others passed him. Even so, once recovered, Felix came roaring back into the race and finished fourth! To his fellow competitors and observers alike, he had a medal-winning spirit.