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HomeOutdoor110 Years Later, IOC Reinstates Jim Thorpe’s Controversial Gold Medals

110 Years Later, IOC Reinstates Jim Thorpe’s Controversial Gold Medals


In 1913, the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) controversially voted to strip Native American athlete Jim Thorpe of his 1912 Olympic titles. Lastly, after greater than a century of deliberation, officers are restoring his title to the file books.

Vindication for Jim Thorpe lastly arrived on July 15, 2022 — 110 years to the day that he took gold within the Olympic decathlon.

Friday’s win marks the tip of a profitable 2-year marketing campaign by a number of teams. The Doug Williams Heart (DWC), which advocates for inclusion and social justice in sports activities, and Shiny Path Robust, a nonprofit centered on Thorpe’s reinstatement, spearheaded the initiative. A part of their technique included an on-line petition that yielded greater than 75,000 signatures and in the end bought the IOC’s consideration.

“Regardless of some data standing unbroken for greater than 60 years, the official file has nonetheless listed Jim as a ‘co-champion’ — till now,” Shiny Path Robust said following the choice. “The IOC introduced right this moment that Jim will once more be listed because the first-place winner of his occasions.”

For its half, the IOC said it “will henceforth show the title of Jim Thorpe as the only gold medallist in pentathlon and decathlon on the Olympic Video games Stockholm 1912.”

Jim Thorpe & Olympic Controversy

Thorpe was born in Oklahoma a citizen of the Sac and Fox Nation. He discovered marked success in school sports activities and finally entered the professional leagues in not one however three sports activities: soccer, baseball, and basketball. In 1963, he turned the primary Indigenous athlete to enter the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame.

However earlier than all that, he dominated the competitors on the 1912 Stockholm Summer time Olympics. There, Thorpe took gold within the decathlon and pentathlon, main Sweden’s King Gustav to dub him the “best athlete on the planet.”

The inimitable Thorpe may seemingly do all of it regardless of a spate of systemic constraints; his standing as an Indigenous American hero leaves little marvel over the discrimination he confronted.

Practically a 12 months after the 1912 Video games, the IOC discovered that Thorpe had obtained $30 month-to-month (over $900 in worth right this moment) as a minor league baseball participant in 1909 and 1910. The committee alleged that Thorpe had damaged novice rules, conduct that ought to have disqualified him from competing.

Jim Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockhom, Sweden;
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Thorpe competes within the discus throw on the 1912 Olympics; (photograph/artistic commons)

The IOC’s place was problematic for a number of causes. First, it contested Thorpe’s data a number of months after the problem interval had closed. Moreover, his participation within the minor leagues was widespread information, and the compensation was normal for the league.

So, when the officers revoked his Olympic titles on such specious grounds, many believed that its true motives have been prejudicial — a sentiment that turned supercharged by Indigenous justice actions.

Thorpe fought in opposition to the choice however proved no match for the authorities deadset in opposition to him. The IOC repossessed each medals and redacted his title from the Olympic annals.

He died of a coronary heart assault in 1953. His household continued the battle to reinstate his title, however their efforts went largely unrewarded.

Prior to now, the closest the IOC got here to remediation was when it agreed to supply replicas of Thorpe’s medals in 1982. A 12 months later, it restored his standing to co-champion in each gold medal occasions. Nonetheless, the committee stopped wanting restoring his precise data.

Restoration of Thorpe’s Honors

Jim Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockhom, Sweden;
Jim Thorpe on the 1912 Summer time Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden; (photograph/Inventive Commons)

The IOC mentioned it determined to reinstate Thorpe’s medals alongside Shiny Path Robust and the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC). The surviving relations of Hugo Okay. Wieslander, who held the decathlon gold medal after the IOC stripped Thorpe of it in 1913, additionally consulted.

In keeping with the IOC, the household transmitted an opinion Wieslander held that one would possibly name shocking.

The household “confirmed that Wieslander himself had by no means accepted the Olympic gold medal allotted to him, and had all the time been of the opinion that Jim Thorpe was the only reliable Olympic gold medallist,” the IOC mentioned.

The SOC joined the household within the opinion, as did numerous different Olympic committees. Ultimately, the tide turned.

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A Phrase From the IOC

“We welcome the truth that, due to the nice engagement of Shiny Path Robust, an answer could possibly be discovered,” IOC President Thomas Bach mentioned. “It is a most distinctive and distinctive scenario, which has been addressed by a rare gesture of truthful play from the Nationwide Olympic Committees involved.”

It famous that the second-place finishers, Wieslander and Ferdinand Bie of Norway, will lose their gold medals however retain silver. All different medalists, together with the interim bronze winners who completed fourth in each occasions, will retain their medal standing.

“The sunshine of true greatness can by no means be extinguished regardless of the forces of darkness that search to disclaim it,” Fawn Sharp, president of the Nationwide Congress of American Indians, said on Friday.

“Jim Thorpe’s gentle will eternally shine to encourage generations of our youth to imagine in themselves and the infinite energy of their God-given presents, skills, and desires.”


For extra details about Jim Thorpe and his legacy, go to the Shiny Path Robust web site.

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