Cuban Postal Worker
Makes Surprising Finish
In Olympic Race
A 29-year old Cuban mail-carrier, an amateur runner, wanted badly to participate in the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. Despite the fact Felix Carvajal was nearly broke and without a sponsor, he was determined to compete.
After completing his daily mail route, he would appear in Havana's main square, announcing his intention of winning an Olympic Medal for his beloved country. He politely asked for donations to finance his trip.
With minimal funds in hand, he took passage on a tramp steamer bound for New Orleans. Flat broke when he reached the U.S.shore, Carvajal hitch-hiked the rest of the way.
He arrived in St. Louis on a hot, sweltering summer day just in time for the race. Wearing woolen trousers, a linen shirt, street shoes and a felt beret, he looked like anything but an athlete. Another competitor assisted Carvajal by cutting the heavy trousers just below the knees. Then, the race was on.
Carvajal surprised many with a 4th-place finish in the race at just under 4 hours. Hailed by the international press for his determination and amiable manner, he returned to Cuba a hero, never again to appear in international competition. His story became an inspiration for all Cuban athletes.
58 years in broadcasting
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