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Jim Thorpe: Legend Athlete Stripped of Olympic Medals

Jim Thorpe: Legend Athlete Stripped of Olympic Medals
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                      Jim Thorpe - The Legend Athlete / But why he was stripped of his two Olympic gold medals.

Few athletes build the kind of legacy that Jim Thorpe established over the course of his long athletic career. 

Jim was an exceptionally versatile athlete, and in 1912, he traveled to Stockholm for the Olympic Games being held there. He won two gold medals in the games: one for the pentathlon, and another for the decathlon, instantly marking him as one of the great Olympians of all time.

Jim Thorpe 
James Francis Thorpe popularly known as Jim Thorpe, was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist as well as a member of the Sac and Fox Nation. 

Thorpe was the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States in the Olympics.

Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won two Olympic gold medals in the 1912 Summer Olympics (one in classic pentathlon and the other in decathlon). 

He also played football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball, and basketball.

Thorpe grew up in the Sac and Fox Nation in Indian Territory (what is now the U.S. state of Oklahoma).

As a youth, he attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he was a two-time All-American for the school's football team under coach Pop Warner. 

After his Olympic success in 1912, which included a record score in the decathlon, he added a victory in the All-Around Championship of the Amateur Athletic Union. 

In 1913, he played for the Pine Village Pros in Indiana. Later in 1913, Thorpe signed with the New York Giants, and he played six seasons in Major League Baseball between 1913 and 1919.

Thorpe joined the Canton Bulldogs American football team in 1915, helping them win three professional championships. He later played for six teams in the National Football League (NFL).

He played as part of several all-American Indian teams throughout his career and barnstormed as a professional basketball player with a team composed entirely of American Indians.

From 1920 to 1921, Thorpe was nominally the first president of the American Professional Football Association, which became the NFL in 1922. He played professional sports until age 41, the end of his sports career coinciding with the start of the Great Depression. 

Why did Jim Thorpe lose his medals?

After the 1912 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the decision to strip Jim of his medals, claiming that he had violated the 'amateurism rules' that existed around the games at that time. 

The decision came down in 1913 and was based on two seasons of semi-professional baseball that Jim had played prior to competing in the Olympics.

At the time, the Olympics had rules in place that didn't permit non-amateurs to compete in the Olympics. 

If you were at some point paid for your sport, you were no longer allowed to compete. Those rules were eventually scrapped, and now, a wide array of professional athletes compete in the Olympic Games in everything from basketball to track and field.

Jim Thorpe's medals weren't fully restored until 2022.

In 1983, the IOC ruled that Jim's medals could be restored after stating that the initial ruling had fallen outside of the 30-day window when these decisions were supposed to be made. 

Jim Thorpe has been reinstated as the sole winner of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon in Stockholm — nearly 110 years after being stripped of those gold medals for violating the rules of the time.

The International Olympic Committee announced the change on the 110th anniversary of Thorpe winning the decathlon in Stockholm.

Thorpe was discovered to have been paid to play minor league baseball, an infringement of the Olympic amateurism rules.

As a result, he was stripped of his gold medals in what was described as the first major international sports scandal.

In 1982 — 29 years after Thorpe's death — the IOC gave duplicate gold medals to his family, but neither his Olympic records were not reinstated nor was his status as the sole gold medalist of the two events.

Instead, the IOC had listed him as a co-champion in the official record book.

Two years ago, a Bright Path Strong petition advocated declaring Thorpe the outright winner of the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912.

“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,” Bach added

World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, has also agreed to amend its records, the IOC said.


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