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Jim Thorpe reinstated as sole winner of Olympic gold medals – The Hill

Story at a glance


  • The International Olympic Committee announced Friday that Jim Thorpe will be named as the sole gold medalist for the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games.

  • Thorpe, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States.

  • The move comes after petitioning efforts from family and supporters. 

Jim Thorpe will once again be considered the sole gold medalist in the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm.  

The International Olympic Committee announced the decision Friday, on the 110th anniversary of Thorpe’s gold medal wins. Thorpe, who was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold for U.S, had his medals taken away after violating the games’ amateurism rule by being paid to play minor league baseball for two summers prior to the games.  

Thorpe was not the only Olympic athlete to ever play professionally. At the time it was common practice for college athletes to play baseball for pay under an alias, according to The Washington Post.  


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But Thorpe was unaware of the custom and used his own name which stopped him from being able to fly under the radar of the IOC and The Amateur Athletic Union.  

Now, his name will be displayed as the sole gold medalist for both events, with silver going to Norwegian athlete Ferdinand Bie for the pentathlon and Hugo Wieslander in the decathlon, the IOC said in a statement. 

“We welcome the fact that, thanks to the great engagement of Bright Path Strong, a solution could be found. This is a most exceptional and unique situation, which has been addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the National Olympic Committees concerned,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.  

Bright Path Strong is the name of the nonprofit organization behind the petition to reinstate Thorpe as the sole gold medalist in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics.

After the games, Thorpe would continue to have a career acting, humanitarian work and in sports, becoming the first president of the National Football Association in 1920.  


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Published on Jul. 15, 2022

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