- The Washington Times - Friday, July 15, 2022

Native American multisport legend Jim Thorpe not only won the gold medal in the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympics, but he also did it so convincingly that King Gustaf V of Sweden proclaimed him “the greatest athlete in the world.”

The two medals were stripped from Thorpe months later over amateurism violations, but have now been restored by the International Olympic Committee. 

Previously, the IOC had given duplicate gold medals to Thorpe’s surviving family members in 1982, but had not reinstated him into the record books as the sole champion.



The recognition comes after two years of activism from Bright Path Strong, a group named for Thorpe’s native name Wa-Tho-Huk (“bright path” in English).

Bright Path Strong co-founder Nedra Darling was effusive in her praise, saying, “We are so grateful this nearly 110-year-old injustice has finally been corrected, and there is no confusion about the most remarkable athlete in history,” according to the Associated Press.

Many of Thorpe’s contemporaries agreed with Ms. Darling and King Gustaf’s assessment of his athletic prowess. In the 1912 Stockholm games, he tripled the score of the silver medalist in the pentathlon and amassed 688 more points than Hugo Wieslander, the silver medalist in the decathlon.

The IOC confirmed that Wieslander, who was the official decathlon gold medalist after Thorpe, “never accepted the Olympic gold medal allocated to him, and had always been of the opinion that Jim Thorpe was the sole legitimate Olympic gold medalist,” as reported by the AP.

In 1950, Thorpe was voted the AP’s Athlete of the Half-Century for his success in not only the Olympics but baseball and football as well.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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