“Greatest Athlete in the World” Jim Thorpe reinstated as sole winner of two 1912 Olympic events

Jim Thorpe won two gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon, setting world records in both events at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.

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Lausanne, Switzerland – Jim Thorpe has been reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm – nearly 110 years after he was stripped of those gold medals for violations of the strict amateur rules at the time.

The International Olympic Committee plans to announce the change on Friday on the 110th anniversary of Thorpe winning the decathlon and later declared by Sweden’s King Gustav V as “the greatest athlete in the world”.

Thorpe, a Native American, returned to a ticker-tape parade in New York, but months later it was revealed that he had been paid to play minor league baseball for two summers, a violation of Olympic amateurism rules. He was stripped of his gold medal in what was previously described as a major international sports scandal.

Thorpe remains to some people the greatest all-round athlete of all time. In 1950, he was voted the Associated Press ‘Athlete of the Half Century’ in a poll.

In 1982 – 29 years after Thorpe’s death – the IOC awarded duplicate gold medals to his family but his Olympic record was not restored, nor was his status as the sole gold medalist of the two events.

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

“We welcome the fact that, thanks to Bright Path Strong’s great engagement, a solution may be found,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement as part of Friday’s announcement. “This is a most extraordinary and unique situation, addressed by the extraordinary gesture of fair play of the respective National Olympic Committees.”

The IOC said track and field governing body World Athletics has also agreed to amend its record.

Thorpe tripled his nearest rival’s score in the pentathlon and scored 688 more points than the second-place finisher in the decathlon.

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

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