On July 7, 1912, Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. At that time, the five events included the long jump, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, discus throw, and 1500-meter run.
On July 15, 1912 Thorpe won the 10-event three-day Olympic decathlon (100-meter dash, running long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1,500-meter run), competing during the last two days while wearing borrowed and scrounged ill-fitting mismatched shoes.
Overall, Thorpe won eight of the 15 individual events comprising the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon and placed in the top four in all ten events in the decathlon. His Olympic decathlon record of 8,413 points stood for nearly two decades.
Thorpe’s presence on the Olympic team was remarkable in many ways, partly because prior to the US Olympic team trials he had never thrown a javelin (and didn’t know you could take a running start) or attempted a pole vault.
However, in 1913 after the awards ceremony when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) learned that Thorpe had played minor league baseball in 1909-1910 as a professional, they stripped him of his gold medals for violation of their amateurism requirements and struck his marks from the official record books www.americanindianmagazine.org/... .
In 1982, four years before giving up the pretense of amateurism, the IOC returned replicas of Thorpe’s medals to his family and bizarrely declared him co-winner of the pentathlon and decathlon!?? In 1986, professional athletes were given permission by the International Federation to compete in each sport of the Olympic Games.
Yesterday the IOC finally reinstated Thorpe as the sole winner of both 1912 events.
In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals with replicas, after ruling that the decision to strip him of his medals fell outside of the required 30 days. Until July 14, 2022 Thorpe was listed as co-champion in both the decathlon and pentathlon events according to official IOC records.
Jim Thorpe’s Olympic victories were just one testament to his reputation as the greatest all-around athlete in the world. That status would later become evident during the 6 years when the 6’ 185lb Thorpe played major league baseball (1913-1919) and during the 11 years he played professional football (1915 -1926). Off the field, versatile Thorpe also had a career in motion pictures.
Born May 28, 1887, in Prague, Oklahoma, on a Sac-and-Fox Indian reservation, James Francis Thorpe was given the name Wa-Ho-Thuck by his mother, meaning “bright path.” In 1908, Thorpe matriculated at the Carlisle Indian School, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and joined the school’s track team.
Two years later, Thorpe tried out for the Carlisle football team, coached by the legendary Pop Warner. At one practice, Warner challenged the inexperienced Thorpe to run the ball against the entire Carlisle team. Thorpe dodged, weaved and out-ran all 30 of the Carlisle players to score a touchdown. Warner was incredulous, and asked Thorpe to do it again. Thorpe did, and then joined the team as a running back. He was named an All-American in 1911 and 1912.
I’m at a loss to explain how it could have taken so very long for this outrageous injustice to be rectified, but I sense that the universe is more at ease as a result.
The NYT story published earlier today is worth reading www.nytimes.com/…