Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thorpe Win Olympic Decathlon: 94th Anniversary

By Robert H. Kelly

94 years ago today, Jim Thorpe won the Olympic decathlon. With 8,412 points, he breaks the world record by an incredible 998 points. This came eight days after winning the pentathlon.

His closes competition was Hugo Wieslander of Sweden, who scored 7724 points.

When Thorpe is introduced at the awards ceremony there is a great burst of cheers, led by King Gustav V. Besides the gold medals, Thorpe receives a jewel-encrusted chalice in the form of a Viking ship (a gift from Czar Nicholas of Russia) for winning the decathlon and a life-size bronze bust of the Swedish king for capturing the pentathlon. In congratulating Thorpe, Gustav tells him, "Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world."

Thorpe reputedly replies, "Thanks, king."

He was later stripped by the International Olympic Committee of his gold medals for professionalism. They were eventually restored to his family in 1983, thirty years after his death.

In this writer├é’s humble opinion, Jim Thorpe was the greatest athlete of all time.
Below is a partial list of his achievements

* College Football Hall of Fame - 1951

* Charter Enshrinee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame - 1963

* All-America - 1911, 1912

* Olympic Decathlon and Pentathlon Champion - 1912

* AP Most Outstanding Athlete of the First Half of the 20th Century - 1950

* "America's Greatest Football Player of the half-century" - 1950

* ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Century - 2001

* Track and Field Hall of Fame

* In 1950, the nation's press selected Jim Thorpe as the most outstanding athlete of
the first half of the 20th Century

* From 1996-2001, he was continuously awarded ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of
the Century award

No other athlete in history can come close to these and his other achievements.

On one my numerous trips around the county to various sporting events, I had the opportunity many years ago to see his gold medals in the state capital in Oklahoma City. They were displayed in a case in the capital rotunda along with the classic painting of Thorpe in this 1912 Olympic uniform.

This was a major event in my life, as I grew up hearing about Thorpe from my father. I was fortunate to have my wife and young daughter with me.
The man is still inspiring athletes son many years after his great accomplishments and eventual death.

Say what you want about Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Carl Lewis and all the rest. Yes, they are indeed great athletes, but none of them compare to Jim Thorpe.


We should all take the time to think about this great athlete on the anniversary of his greatest Olympic achievement.

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