GEORGE EYSER – Honored Guest
Submitted by Jerry Wright, Gymnastics Lifetime Award Recipient
Instead of grabbing a tin cup and begging on the street corner this man, undaunted, became one of the best athletes in the world.
An Interesting& Especially Talented Gymnastics Individual:According to “Sports References.com,” George was born in Kiel Schleswig-Holstein, Germany in 1871. It’s too bad that so little is known about Mr. George Eyser, because he’s an intriguing figure in the history of sports: The only Olympic (1904) medal winner who had a wooden leg. Reports indicate that he lost his left leg in his youth after having it run over by a train. Controversy: Some skeptics question the validity of the 1904 Olympics in which he competed. However, National Olympic Committees the world over and the International Olympic Committee have accepted the results of those Olympics as official. The Olympics were held in St. Louis that year, and although not many foreign athletes took part, the U. S., Switzerland and Germany had representatives in men’s gymnastics. Competition Results: In the Olympic competition, Eyser won the parallel bars and rope climb, tied for first with Anton Heida in the vault; finished second in the pommel horse and all-around, and placed third in the horizontal bar. He represented the Concordia Turnverein (St. Louis, MO), winning three gold medals and six medals overall. Eyser also participated in some track and field events, a common practice for gymnasts in that era, but remarkably unusual for a one-legged man. In the 12-event All-Around competition he placed 71st individually despite having finished 10th in the nine event all-around. He finished last in the other three events of the triathlon the 100-yard dash, long jump and shot put, pulled down mostly by his 13-foot long jump and 15.4 time for the dash. Continuing to CompeteLest it be assumed that his Olympic medals were due to a lack of competition or some other such advantage, it should be pointed out that Mr. Eyser went on to win medals in international meets in 1908 (Frankfurt, Germany) and 1909 (Cincinnati, Ohio). He arrived in America, from Germany, at the age of fourteen and settled in Denver, Colorado before moving to St. Louis where he worked as a book-keeper for a construction company. Eyser became a US citizen in 1894. Gaining Recognition: A London Times sportswriter, in July 2008, listed Eyser’s feats as one of the top 50 Olympic Games Moments in History.
Sources: Basic data obtained from the public domain (Wikipedia). Photos obtained from public sources by 2008-2011 Web Manager Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who-2010. Editing by Dr. Larry Banner, 1993 GHOF Inductee and 1894-2007 Web Manger, Ph.D. and Ed.D.