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Athlete Jim Thorpe regains two Olympic titles after 110 years of winning gold medals. Thorpe became the first Native American to win gold in both the pentathlon and the decathlon at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.
Thorpe (1887-1953) was a versatile athlete. In addition to athletics and baseball, he played basketball and American football. At the Games, then-King Gustavus of Sweden praised him and called him “the best athlete in the world”. But he later had to hand over his medals for violating strict amateur rules.
Months after winning his Olympic titles, US newspapers reported that Thorpe competed in professional baseball for two summers before the games, earning a small amount of money. It was a violation of the rule that an Olympic athlete should not be allowed to play a paid sport.
Although official rules require an objection to winning the medal within a month, news of Thorpe’s baseball outing didn’t surface until six months after the games. However, the IOC stripped Thorpe of his Olympic titles, and this decision was supported by senior US officials. This was later classified as a racist work, possibly due to Thorpe’s original background.
The athlete grew up under the name Wa-Tho-Huk, which means Clear Path. Two years ago, under that name, a Native American organization began a petition to declare Thorpe an Olympic champion. The organization is grateful that after all these years “this injustice has been corrected”.
In 1982, the IOC actually returned Thorpe’s medals to his children and he was tied for first place. Thorpe had been dead for thirty years by then. The Native Americans, for whom he is a role model, did not believe this was enough and wanted full compensation for Thorpe.
Norwegian and Swede get silver again
The International Olympic Committee announced Friday that Thorpe will regain his titles, exactly 110 years after taking gold in the decathlon. The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, spoke of a “very exceptional and unique situation”.
Athletes from Sweden and Norway who took a gold medal instead of Thorpe, now rank second in the results. This has been discussed with the athletes’ relatives, the World Association of Athletics Federations and the National Olympic Committees.
The IOC wrote in a press release that Sweden’s Hugo Wieslander, who took the silver medal in the decathlon, did not consider himself the rightful Olympic champion. The Norwegian Olympic Committee, in turn, agreed with the silver of the quintet of Norwegian Ferdinand B. The IOC wrote that other athletes who won silver and bronze in 1912 “only” kept their medals.
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