Meet The Very First “Team USA” From The 1896 Olympics

Arthur Blake

Illustration: St. Paul Daily Globe

Part of the Bost Athletic Association, Arthur Blake was a 23-year-old distance-running star who had just won the hotly contested 1,000-yard race. That’s when he met stockbroker Arthur Burnham who congratulated him on his performance. Blake laughed and joked, “Oh, I’m too good for Boston. I ought to go over and run the Marathon, at Athens, in the Olympic Games.”

This offhand comment inspired Burnham to assemble a team from the BAA.

Blake came in second in the 1,500, missing out on first place by less than a second. He also competed in the marathon but pulled out at 23K.