When William Garcia of California fainted on the side of the road and was hospitalized with bleeding, the dust had covered his esophagus and ruptured his stomach lining, he almost became the first Olympic marathon death. He may have died if he had been left alone for an hour longer. His story is a sad one.
The Games went on as planned with only running and jumping events being held in San Francisco. It was not until after the conclusion of the tournament that it was discovered that Garcia had died. He was 23 years old.
It may seem like a tragic accident but it was actually suicide. The facts are that he saw no future in running and felt that he was holding the team back. So, he decided to kill himself by stopping breathing and bleeding to death.
A great runner who competed in several events, Garcia's death caused concern among other runners who were still alive. They believed that if they continued without him, they would be disqualified. No one wanted this to happen so they all stopped competing together. The remaining athletes went their separate ways with only those who did not compete further advancing their careers.
William Garcia was born on January 11th, 1875 in San Jose, California. He was a student at Santa Clara University when he began running for the school's football team. In 1893, he helped lead his team to victory in the first ever West Coast Championship.
It was the sport's first death since an Italian luger was killed on December 10, 1975. Kumaritashvili was the fourth athlete to die during Olympic preparations, following British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski, Australian skier Ross Milne (both 1964 Innsbruck), and Swiss speed skier Nicolas Bochatay (1992 Albertville).
He competed in the men's singles event, which was held from Wednesday, February 20, through Sunday, February 24, 2004. During the final run of the competition, Kumaritashvili hit a gate post and was thrown clear before landing in the path of an oncoming train. The accident occurred after nightfall on the last day of the games.
Kumaritashvili was born on January 4, 1973, in Makhachkala (then part of the Soviet Union) and raised in Gulripshi, a town near Baku in Azerbaijan. He began skiing at the age of three and became interested in competing while watching his brother play ice hockey. After graduating from high school in 1997, he moved to Switzerland where he joined the national team program. He later transferred to the German club Kitzbühel and won two gold medals and one silver at the World Championships.
At the 2004 Athens Games, Kumaritashvili was ranked third in the world by the International Luge Federation (FIL) after winning four out of five races he entered.
According to the International Business Times, she was the first luger to die during the Olympics until 2010, when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died.
While other athletes died during the Olympics as a result of sickness, vehicle accidents, and even terrorism, these individuals died while competing in or participating in legitimate Olympic sports at the Games.
She died on the last day of the Olympics, the same day her remaining teammates won the competition, after being diagnosed with polio. Arrigo Menicocci, an Italian eights rower, was killed as a passenger in a vehicle collision some 90 kilometers northwest of Melbourne during the Olympics on December 1, 1956, four days after the rowing competition ended.
The declared cause of death was heat stroke while competing in temperatures of 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). Following his death, the IOC formed a medical panel in 1967 and began drug testing for the 1968 Olympics.