Jim Thorpe has been restored as the sole gold medalist in the pentathlon and decathlon events for the 1912 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Friday.
In 1913, the Amateur Athletic Union, the predecessor of the United States Olympic Committee, stripped Thorpe of his wins after it was revealed that he had played minor league baseball prior to the 1912 Summer Games, declaring he had broken the rules regarding amateurism that were in place at the time.
The IOC reinstated Thorpe as a co-winner of both events in 1982, but not as the sole winner.
A campaign to restore Thorpe as the champion in his events was launched in July 2020 by Bright Path Strong, an organization that takes its name from the athlete's Native American moniker.
Bright Path Strong began a petition and got in touch with the surviving family members of Hugo Wieslander and Ferdinand Bie, the Olympians who were also awarded gold medals in the two events.
Both families considered Thorpe the winner of the events, the IOC said.
"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," IOC President Thomas Bach said.
Dennis Hendricks, council member of Tuolumne Band of Me Wuk Indians and Bright Path Strong board member, said, "Jim Thorpe faced seemingly insurmountable odds on and off the field.
"He represented this country before it even recognized Native Americans as citizens but he never gave up," Hendricks said. "He was an inspiration then and he is an inspiration now. Today is yet another victory for this great hero."
According to Bright Path Strong, Thorpe's shoes were stolen before his events at the games in Sweden. Instead of admitting defeat, he rummaged through two garbage cans nearby and found two mismatched shoes before going on to take the gold.
Thorpe's granddaughter, Anita Thorpe, an honorary Bright Path Strong board member, hailed the IOC's decision.
"A moment 110 years in the making to finally hear the words officially spoken again, 'Jim Thorpe is the sole winner of the 1912 decathlon and pentathlon,'" she said. "A glorious time of celebrations to all of his friends, family, and supporters. Hooray!!!"
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