Jim Thorpe reinstated as 1912 Olympic gold medal winner after being stripped

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Jim Thorpe was reinstated on Friday as the 1912 winner. Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm, more than a century after he was stripped of his gold medals for violating the then rules of amateur sports.

In the announcement, the International Olympic Committee announced Thorpe as the winner of the competition commemorating the 110th anniversary of his victory in the decathlon. King Gustav V of Sweden proclaimed him “the world’s greatest sportsman”.

Thorpe, Native American, returned to the New York City Ribbon Parade, only to be discovered a few 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.

“We applaud the fact that, thanks to the tremendous commitment 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 extraordinary gesture of fair play by the respective National Olympic Committees.”

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Big Jim Thorpe, famous American athlete and former US Olympic Grand Champion (center), sets the pace for some of the girls during "Youth Olympic Games" A June 6, 1948 Chicago South Side event sponsored by VFW mail.  Jim Thorpe was reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon Olympics—nearly 110 years after he was stripped of those gold medals for violating the strict amateurish rules of the day.

Big Jim Thorpe, famed American athlete and former U.S. Olympic Grand Champion (center), sets the pace for some girls during the “Youth Olympics” in South Chicago on June 6, 1948, sponsored by the VFW mail. Jim Thorpe was reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon Olympics—nearly 110 years after he was stripped of those gold medals for violating the strict amateurish rules of the day.
(AP photo, file)

Thorp’s Native American name, Wa-To-Hook, means “Shining Path”. He was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States.

In 1982, the IOC gave the Thorpe family duplicate gold medals to his family, but his Olympic records were not restored, nor was his status as the only gold medalist in two events.

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.