Olympics committee announces restoration of Jim Thorpe as sole gold medalist from 1912 competition

Athlete had been stripped of medals after his professional sports-playing came to light.
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Jim Thorpe circa 1910
Jim Thorpe circa 1910
(PhotoQuest/Getty)

Jim Thorpe, the Native American athlete whose legacy has been overshadowed by a century-long controversy involving several stripped Olympic titles, had those titles restored this week after decades of debate on the matter. 

Thorpe—whose Othâkîwaki name was translated as "Bright Path"—had originally won two Olympic gold medals in both the pentathlon and the decathlon during the 1912 Stockholm games. The International Olympic Committee, however, subsequently stripped him of those medals when it learned he had apparently violated the Olympic rules on competing in professional sports. 

Thorpe died in 1953 with his medals still stripped. In 1983 the IOC subsequently restored his titles, having ruled that the penalty against him had fallen outside of the committee's statute of limitations. 

The athlete was nevertheless merely listed as a co-champion with the restoration of his medals. But this week the IOC announced it had restored him as full champion following lobbying efforts by Bright Path Strong, a group dedicated to restoring Thorpe's sole title to his medals. 

"We welcome the fact that, thanks to the great engagement of Bright Path Strong, a solution could be found," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release regarding the restoration.

"This is a most exceptional and unique situation," Bach added, "which has been addressed by an extraordinary gesture of fair play from the National Olympic Committees concerned.”