Jim Thorpe is restored as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic gold medals

Jim Thorpe, one of the greatest athletes in history and a victim of what many considered to be a centuries-old Olympic injustice, has been restored as the sole winner of the tikamp and pentathlon at the Stockholm Games in 1912.

Thorpe, who excelled in a dozen or more sports, had dominated his two events at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, but was deprived of his medals after it was revealed that he had earned a few dollars short of playing professional baseball before. his Olympic career. American officials, in what historians regarded as a mixture of racism against Thorpe, who was an Indian, and a fanatical devotion to the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčamateurism, were among the loud advocates of his disqualification.

The International Olympic Committee’s recognition of Thorpe, which was announced on Friday, comes 40 years after it recreated him as the co-winner of both events. But the restoration in 1982 was not enough for his followers, who continued to campaign on behalf of Thorpe, an American icon particularly revered in Native American communities.

The athletes who were declared champions by the IOC – Hugo Wieslander, a Swede who finished second in the doubles match, and Ferdinand Bie from Norway, who finished behind Thorpe in the five-match match – expressed great reluctance to accept their gold medals after Thorpe had deprived of his victories in 1913. The IOC said it consulted with both Sweden, Wieslander’s surviving family members and Norway’s Olympic Committees before reinstating Thorpe as the sole champion of both events.

“This is a very unusual and unique situation,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “It is taken up by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the relevant National Olympic Committees.”

The decision to nominate Thorpe as the sole winner of tikamp and pentathlon was reported Thursday by Indian Country Today, who noted that Olympic officials had quietly put him alone in first place on the Games’ official website.

Restoration of Thorpe’s medals has long been a matter for Native Americans and other activists, who in recent years had renewed signature collections and lobbyed the IOC for the change. Thorpe was a member of the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma and attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, and his accomplishments in several sports are legendary in Native American circles.

“Is there half justice?” asked Nedra Darling, a citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, whose father was a longtime friend of Thorpe, in 2020. “It is scandalous that the records were not corrected in 1982.”

Bright Path Strong, a foundation named after Thorpe’s native name, has led efforts to restore Thorpe’s status.

“We are delighted that thanks to Bright Path Strong’s great commitment, a solution could be found,” Bach said.

Thorpe’s achievements on the football field were legendary: In 1911, Carlisle disrupted Harvard to a great extent thanks to Thorpe, who played halfback and also kicked four field goals.

Thorpe went to the Olympics in 1912 in Stockholm to compete in tikamp and another now closed track competition, pentathlon. He won both, was hailed internationally and participated in a ticker-tape parade for Olympic stars on Broadway in New York. The Times reported that Thorpe received the most cheers, along with Pat McDonald, a shot putter who was a Times Square traffic officer.

But the next year it emerged that Thorpe had earned $ 25 a week playing minor league baseball a few years before. Under the strict amateur rules of the time, he was deprived of his gold medals.

His amateur status was revoked, Thorpe began a baseball career in the major league, where he played from 1913 to 1919 for the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Braves. Remarkably, he switched to professional football in 1920 and played until he was 41 with six teams, including the New York Giants.

Thorpe died in 1953. His New York Times obituary called him “probably the greatest natural athlete the world had seen in modern times.”

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