Jim Thorpe is reinstated as the only 1912 Olympic gold medalist.

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland. Jim Thorpe was reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm, almost 110 years after he was stripped of those gold medals for violating the strict amateurish rules of the day.

The International Olympic Committee announced the change on Friday, the 110th anniversary of Thorpe’s victory in the decathlon and then his proclamation by King Gustav V of Sweden as “the world’s greatest athlete”.

Thorpe, a Native American, returned to the ticker tape parade in New York, only to be revealed months later that he was being paid to play minor league baseball for two years, in violation of Olympic amateurism rules. He was stripped of his gold medals in what has been called the first major international sports scandal.

For some, Thorpe remains the greatest athlete of all time. In a 1950 poll by the Associated Press, he was voted the Athlete of the Half Century by the Associated Press.

In 1982, 29 years after Thorpe’s death, the IOC awarded duplicate gold medals to his family, but his Olympic records were not restored, nor was his status as the only gold medalist in the two events.

Thorpe’s gold medals were initially taken away after it was revealed he was being paid to play minor league baseball.

Two years ago, the Bright Path Strong petition advocated for Thorpe to be declared the overall winner of the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912. The IOC listed him in the official record book as a co-champion.

“We applaud the fact that, thanks to the active involvement of Bright Path Strong, a solution has been found,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “This is an exceptional and unique situation that has been resolved through an exceptional gesture of fair play by the respective National Olympic Committees.”

Thorp’s Native American name, Wa-To-Hook, means “Shining Path”. The organization, with the help of IOC member Anita DeFrantz, contacted the Swedish Olympic Committee and the family of Hugo Wieslander, who in 1913 won the gold medal in the decathlon.

“They confirmed that Wieslander himself never accepted the Olympic gold medal allocated to him and was always of the opinion that Jim Thorpe was the only legitimate Olympic gold medalist,” the IOC said, adding that the Swedish Olympic Committee agreed.

“The same statement was received from the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the Confederation of Sports, whose athlete Ferdinand Bie was named the gold medalist when Thorp was stripped of his pentathlon title,” the IOC said in a statement.

Bee will be listed as the silver medalist in the pentathlon and Wieslander as the silver medalist in the decathlon.

Jim Thorpe
Thorpe made history as the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States.

World Athletics, athletics’ governing body, has also agreed to amend its records, the IOC said.

Bright Path Strong thanked the IOC for “bringing the truth” to athlete Sack, Fox and Potawatomi.

“We are so grateful that this nearly 110-year-old injustice has finally been corrected and there is no confusion about the most outstanding athlete in history,” said Nedra Darling, co-founder of the organization and citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.

At the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, Native American hammer thrower Janey Kassanavoid said the announcement was good news.

“My ultimate goal is to follow in his footsteps and inspire and empower the next generation of athletes,” she said.

As the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States, Thorpe “inspired our people for generations,” said Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of the American Indians.

In Stockholm, Thorpe tripled his closest competitor in the pentathlon and scored 688 points more than the decathlon runner-up.

During the closing ceremony, King Gustav V told Thorpe, “Sir, you are the greatest sportsman in the world.”

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