|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Number and Year||V / 1912|
|Host city||Stockholm, Sweden (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||6 July|
|Closing ceremony||15 July|
|Competition dates||5 May – 27 July|
|OCOG||Swedish Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games of Stockholm, 1912|
|Participants||2409 from 29 countries|
|Medal events||107 in 19 disciplines|
|Other events||6 in 3 disciplines|
After the problems of 1908, the Olympics of 1900 and 1904 held alongside World’s Fairs, the meager international participation of 1896 and 1906, Stockholm, Sweden should be credited with the first truly modern Olympic Games of Olympic proportions. Probably more than any other Olympics, they belonged to one person.
Jim Thorpe was a Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma, who was known by the Indian name of “Wa-tho-huck,” meaning Bright Path. Thorpe had attended the Carlisle Indian School, where he was a natural athlete, considered the greatest college football player in the nation by many experts. On the track he usually helped Carlisle win meets by competing in, and winning, five or more events. He could do everything. Eventually he would play major league baseball for five years and, well past his prime, he would be a star in the nascent National Football League.
In 1912, Thorpe decided to compete in the two new Olympic events testing the all-around abilities of the track & field athletes – the decathlon of ten events, and pentathlon of five events. His victories were laughable. In the decathlon he set a world record that would not be broken for 16 years, although it was his first (and only) try at the event. His marks would have been good enough to win a silver medal in 1948 – 36 years later. In the pentathlon, he won outright three of the five events contested. That was not enough for Thorpe. He also competed in the individual high jump, finishing 4th, and the individual long jump, finishing 7th.
When awarded his prizes by King Gustav V, the King supposedly said, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe’s reply was reported as, “Thanks, King.” The King of Sweden knew whereof he spoke.
In 1913, Roy Johnson, of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Massachusetts, saw a picture of Thorpe in a baseball uniform. The picture was in the office of a Rhode Island man who owned a minor league baseball team. Johnson pursued the story and found that in 1909 and 1910 Thorpe had played minor league baseball with the Rocky Mount Railroaders in North Carolina. When the AAU found out, they reported this to the IOC, and Thorpe was stripped of his medals. The Official Report of the 1912 Olympics mention’s Thorpe’s name only in a few places where it was apparent that they had failed to delete it. Details are not given of his decathlon and pentathlon victory.
Thorpe admitted that he had played minor league baseball. It was common for college athletes to do so in that era, but most of them played under pseudonyms to protect their amateur status. Thorpe was a bit naive and did not know he should do this. When he was accused of professionalism by the AAU, after the story broke, he wrote, “I did not play for the money there was in it because my property brings me in enough money to live on, but because I liked to play ball. I was not wise in the ways of the world and did not realize this was wrong, and that it would make me a professional in track sports …”
However, no appeal by Thorpe would help in 1913. His medals were taken from him, and given to Sweden’s Hugo Wieslander, runner-up in the decathlon, and Norway’s Ferdinand Bie, who finished second in the pentathlon. Over the next 70 years, multiple appeals were made on behalf of Thorpe, but were unsuccessful. Seventy years later, in 1982, the IOC finally relented and restored the medals to Thorpe’s family – he had died in 1953. On 18 January 1983 in Los Angeles, the gold medals were presented to his children. Based on his accomplishments, they were simply restoring long-overdue medals to the memory of a man who was best described by the King of Sweden – he was the GOAT, the Greatest athlete Of All-Time. The 1912 Olympics were a beautiful festival – they stand as a monument to his memory.
Stockholm was selected by acclamation at the 11th IOC Session in Berlin on 28 May 1909. Berlin (Germany) was quite interested in hosting the 1912 Olympic Games but withdrew its bid shortly before the session.
|Officially opened by||Gustav V, Kung av Sverige||SWE||King|
|Art Competitions||Equestrian Jumping||Swimming|
|Cycling Road||Modern Pentathlon||Water Polo|
|Hübner von Holst||SWE||2||1||1||4|