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Olympic Trivia

The Americans are the only country not to dip their flag before the reviewing stand during the Olympic ceremony. This began at the Summer games in 1908 when the games were held at Shepherd’s Bush, London, when America was seen as a backward colony by the British, and they were placed behind all the other national teams.

Most of the Americans were either Irish born or Irish-American, many New York policemen or firemen. Because of this and  because Ireland was not permitted to field their own team since “they were not a nation,” tensions ran high. As each country passed the reviewing stand, they dipped their flag to King Edward. As the American team approached, a 6 ft. 2 in. 245 lb. Tipperary-born New York cop broke ranks and stepped beside the flag bearer, saying, “Dip that banner, and you’re in the hospital tonight!” At a later news conference, Mayo-born Martin Sheridan said, “This flag dips to no earthly king.” It became known as ‘The Battle of Shepherd’s Bush.”

U. S. Coach Mike Murphy warned his team that the British would be looking for ways to disqualify them. Controversy arose when an Italian runner collapsed and had to be dragged across the finish line by officials and was declared the winner. Only a formal protest succeeded in having the Italian disqualified, and the American John Hayes declared the winner.

The Americans won 13 out of 23 medals in track and field. Two of the winners presented their medals to President Theodore Roosevelt who became an honorary member of the “Irish American Athletic Club.”

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