Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Jim Thorpe reinstated as winner of the 1912 Olympics pentathlon and decathlon gold medals

Jim Thorpe Getty 1912 Olympic Trials
Getty Images

After well over a century, Jim Thorpe — a Native American track and field athlete — has been reinstated as the sole gold medalist of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon events in Stockholm. The International Olympic Committee made the announcement on Friday, the day of the 110th anniversary of his decathlon victory. 

The Bright Path Strong organization, with the support of IOC Member Anita DeFrantz, reached out to the Swedish Olympic Committee and the surviving family members of Hugo K. Wieslander, the athlete who was given the Olympic title when Thorpe’s was taken away in 1913. 

Wieslander’s family confirmed that he never accepted that gold medal, and said they always considered Thorpe as the legitimate winner. The Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports gave the same confirmation regarding Ferdinand Bie, the man who was given Thorpe’s gold medal in the pentathlon event. Wieslander and Bie’s names will be displayed as silver medalists in their respective competitions.

Thorpe — whose nickname was Wa-Tho-Huk, meaning “Bright Path” — celebrated his victory in a parade in New York. However, in 1913, he was stripped of the medals after the Amateur Athletic Union learned that he had been paid to play minor league baseball two years earlier, which was against the rules of amateurism at the time. 

“We welcome the fact that, thanks to the great engagement of Bright Path Strong, a solution could be found,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in the press release. “This is a most exceptional and unique situation, which has been addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the National Olympic Committees concerned.”

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