IOC to display the name of Jim Thorpe as sole Stockholm 1912 pentathlon and decathlon gold medallist
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will henceforth display the name of Jim Thorpe as the sole gold medallist in pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympic Games Stockholm 1912. This change comes on the day of the 110th anniversary of Thorpe’s medal in decathlon, on 15 July.
This development has been made possible by the engagement of the Bright Path Strong organisation, supported by IOC Member Anita DeFrantz. They contacted the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) and the surviving family members of Hugo K. Wieslander, who was named as the gold medallist in decathlon when Thorpe was stripped of his medals in 1913. They confirmed that Wieslander himself had 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 medallist. When contacted by the IOC, the SOC also declared that Thorpe should be acknowledged as the sole Olympic champion in decathlon at the Olympic Games Stockholm 1912.
The same declaration was received from the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, whose athlete, Ferdinand Bie, was named as the gold medallist when Thorpe was stripped of the pentathlon title.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “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.”
With this decision, Thorpe’s name will now be displayed as the sole gold medallist in pentathlon and decathlon, with the silver going to Bie in the pentathlon and Wieslander in the decathlon. However, James Donahue, from the US, and Frank Lukeman, from Canada, will keep the silver and bronze medals in pentathlon that they were awarded when the results were amended in 1913. The same applies to Charles Lomberg (silver) and Gösta Holmér (bronze), both from Sweden, in the decathlon.
In addition, World Athletics, as the responsible International Sports Federation for track and field, has agreed to amend its records to reflect this decision.
Jim Thorpe, the Native American track and field athlete whose original given name of Wa-Tho-Huk means “Bright Path”, won both events at the 1912 Games, but was stripped of his Olympic titles one year later. The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the predecessor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), deemed that he had infringed the rules regarding amateurism in place at the time.
After Thorpe was reinstated by the AAU (in 1973) and the USOC (in 1975), the IOC Executive Board resolved in 1982 to restore his status as an amateur at the request of the USOC. Following this change of status, the IOC decided that the IOC President should present the two medals to Thorpe’s children during a ceremony with the USOC, and that his name should be added to those of the other gold medal winners, but the official report of the 1912 Games should remain unchanged, meaning that the other 1912 medallists were not declassified.
To those of you who have signed the petition, thank you for your support to restore Jim Thorpe’s Olympic wins. With over 20K signatures in just two weeks, your effort to amplify the true story of our legendary Native American hero is helping us lay the foundation to right history.
The IOC issued the following statement In a response to a WFMZ News story:
“The story of the personal achievements and the difficulties faced by Thorpe during his life is a source of unquestionable inspiration in itself for current and future generations, which cannot be increased by retroactively adjusting the ranking of the other athletes.”
We continue to call upon the IOC to remove the red stain of discrimination toward Jim Thorpe, our World Olympic Icon.
In today’s environment it is unacceptable to let the wrong records stand for the World’s Greatest Athlete. Native people have had enough stolen from us – our languages, our lands, our culture – and it is now time to take back what was stolen from our Sac and Fox and Potawatomi Hero and reinstate Jim Thorpe’s original and correct Olympic records!
As an organization whose core values represent equality among nations, it is the IOC’s responsibility to make things right.
The IOC’s stated mission is“a commitment to building a better world through sport.”
To this, we say: here is your chance.
In the IOC’s Core Values, it is written: “Respect – This includes respect for yourself and your body, for other people, for rules and regulations, for sport and for the environment.”
It’s in your values to respect your rules, which you broke in stripping Jim’s wins. This is your opportunity to walk your talk.
We invite you – let’s work together to do better for the next generation.
We’re just getting started!
Executive Producer of Bright Path
& Co-Founder of Bright Path Strong