Posts Tagged ‘Pentathlon’

Restore Jim Thorpe’s Sole Standing

November 13, 2019

Everyone knows Jim Thorpe’s gold medals for winning both the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics were taken back in 1913 because he had played some low-level minor league baseball. Less well known is that, through the efforts of husband and wife team Bob Wheeler and Florence Ridlon, his medals were restored, and his name returned to the record books. Little known is that even though his records are now included in the official report, the International Olympic Committee chose to list the second-place finishers in both events as also being gold medal winners’ point totals, even though Thorpe amassed much higher point totals. Over the decades, the IOC has resisted all efforts to restore Thorpe as the sole gold medal winner for the decathlon and pentathlon even though it was proven they had illegally taken his medals and records away. Fortunately, not all have given up hope.

U.S. Representative from the 1st Congressional District of New Mexico Debra Haaland is submitting a resolution in a week to put pressure on the IOC to right this wrong. She is proposing this resolution to coincide with Native American Heritage Month. After making its case, the resolution states:

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the International Olympic Committee, through its president, should officially recognize Jim Thorpe’s unprecedented athletic achievements as the sole Gold Medalist in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon events and correct these inaccuracies in the official Olympic books.

I urge you to assist Rep. Haaland in this effort by writing in support of this resolution to her office in care of



1912 Pentathlon Part 2

May 17, 2012

Jim Thorpe won the 1500 meter run, the last event of the pentathlon, with a time of 4 minutes 44.8 seconds. Avery Brundage did not finish but was awarded seven points, comparable to a last place finish. Whether he started and did not finish or just didn’t bother to run at all is unclear. Ironically, Thorpe could have finished dead last in the 1500 meters and still won the pentathlon but he probably never considered loafing to save his energy for the decathlon. Brundage finished in sixth place overall, ahead of Hugo Wieslander, who finished fourth in the 1500 meters. The best Brundage could hope for if he came in first, second or third was a bronze medal because, even if he finished dead last, Ferdinand Bie of Norway would have had only 22 points overall as he had only 15 points coming into the 1500 meters where Brundage already had 24. A first place finish would have given Brundage 25. A fourth place finish would have given him 28 points, still good enough for a bronze because James Donahue and Frank Lukeman both finished with 29 points in a tie for third place. The tie was broken by recalculating their results using the method used for the decathlon with the result that Donahue was awarded the bronze medal

According to Wikipedia, Brundage chose not to compete in the final event of the decathlon, again the 1500 meter run, and later regretted the decision. It may be that he also chose not to run the 1500 meters in the pentathlon as well. Perhaps his biographer, Allen Guttman, can shed some light on this but it has been decades since he wrote about Brundage and he may have forgotten the details.

Something that is clearer now is that the Brundage who came in second to Frank Cayou in a track meet held at the University of Illinois on April 28, 1900 probably was Avery. Although still in high school in Chicago, his times were already good enough to compete with college boys.

1912 Olympics Pentathlon

May 15, 2012

Six days before beginning the decathlon competition, Jim Thorpe won the Men’s Pentathlon (not to be confused with the Modern Pentathlon which will be discussed later). Unlike the decathlon, all five pentathlon events were held on the same day, July 7, 1912. The first event was the long jump which Jim Thorpe won with a jump of 7.07 meters. Average Brundage’s 6.83 meter jump was good enough for fourth place. Next up was the javelin which was won by Hugo Wieslander of Sweden with a throw of 49.56 meters. Thorpe’s 46.71 was good enough for third place while Brundage’s 42.85 was ninth. The third event was the 200-meter run which Thorpe won with a time of 22.9 seconds. Brundage came in 15th.

After three events were completed, only the top twelve were allowed to continue; the rest were eliminated. It isn’t clear to me if the rules called for only the top twelve to continue or if those with composite scores higher than 25 were eliminated. Either scheme arrives at the same place in this case. Jim Thorpe was the overall leaders at this point with two firsts and a third place finish for five points total (1+3+1). Avery Brundage’s 22 points (4+7+11) kept him in the game tied for seventh place.

Only the top six competitors were allowed to continue after the fourth event, the discus. Jim Thorpe won that one too with a throw of 35.57 meters. The discus throw must have been Avery Brundage’s best event because he placed second in it. When overall scores were recalculated to determine who made the cut, Thorpe was, of course, well ahead in first place at six points. Surprisingly, Brundage was tied for third with 22 points. Because two men tied for sixth place, seven were allowed to compete in the last event.

 <continued next time>


1912 Olympics – Part V

August 14, 2008

The team held an exhibition meet on June 13 in New York City at which Thorpe and Tewanima stood out. The diminutive Hopi outran the country’s two best middle-distance men in the 3,500 meters and Jim Thorpe outjumped the world record holder in the high jump by clearing 6’5”. After the event was over, the record holder also cleared 6’5”. The 1912 U.S. Olympic team set sail for Stockholm on a Red Star liner, The Finland, arriving on June 30 to a hearty reception.


In the first day’s events, Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon (Avery Brundage tied for third) and qualified for the high jump finals. Lt. George S. Patton finished 5th in the Modern Pentathlon, an entirely different event designed specifically for military officers. Lewis Tewanima qualified for the finals of the 1,500 meter run. Later that day he placed second and won the silver medal. Tewanima was also entered in the marathon.


Andrew Sockalexis described the conditions for the marathon as, “…the worst I ever saw. The roads were very poor. A thick mud, the color of cement, covered them, and out of this protruded small sized rocks, which made the running anything but comfortable….The morning was cool enough, but how the sun did come out getting near noontime. I think the temperature was between 90 and 95 degreees.” He went on to say that he had never found it so warm in America.


The conditions may have affected the little Hopi as he finished a disappointing 16th. Andrew Sockalexis finished 4th but later kicked himself for losing the race for “failing to use my head at the proper time cost me first place in the great race.” His mistake came at the halfway point of the race when he observed that the two leaders, South Africans McArthur and Gitsham, were clinging tight to each other and that McArthur was frothing at the mouth. Sockalexis planned on starting his spurt when McArthur dropped out of the race. He never did and won the race in record time.


Jim Thorpe did not medal in the high jump due to failing to clear the bar when raised to 189 centimeters, a height he had cleared earlier in the year.  He finished tied for 4th in an event in which six of the top seven finishers were American.


In the decathlon, Jim placed 3rd in the 100-meter dash at 11.2 seconds, 3rd in the broad jump at 6.79 meters, 1st in the shotput at 12.89 meters, 1st in the high jump at 1.87 meters, 4th in the 400-meter dash at 52.2 seconds, 3rd in the discus throw at 36.98 meters, 1st in the 110-meter hurdles at 15.6 seconds, tied for 3rd in the pole vault at 3.25 meters, 4th in the javelin throw at 45.70 meters, and 1st in the 1500-meter run at 4minutes, 40.1 seconds. Avery Brundage finished 16th.


Thorpe’s 1912 Olympic performance is the stuff of legends, even at the time. At the medal ceremony, King Gustav V said, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.” To which Thorpe famously replied, “Thanks, King.”


Jim Thorpe receiving Olympic gold medal from King Gustav V of Sweden

Jim Thorpe receiving Olympic gold medal from King Gustav V of Sweden

1912 Olympics – Part III

August 7, 2008

The press was filled with articles about Carlisle’s expected participation in the upcoming games. Various track meets, competitions and races winnowed the field down to those who would eventually participate.


The Boston Marathon, which was run on April 20, was used to select the U.S. long distance team. Prior to the race Pop Warner thought that Mitchell Arquette, St. Regis Mohawk, would do even better than Tewanima. However, Michael J. Ryan, of the Irish American A.C. unexpectedly won the race and in world-record time. Andrew Sockalexis, Penobscot from Maine and not enrolled at Carlisle, came in second in conditions so muddy that runners had to run on sidewalks to get decent footing. After the conclusion of the race, the U.S. Olympic marathon team was set: Ryan and Sockalexis were selected as was Lewis Tewanima, the only Carlisle distance runner on the 1912 U.S. Olympic team. Apparently, the other Carlisle distance men didn’t do well enough in spring meets to qualify.


Jim Thorpe had a good spring. He was running so well that Warner was quoted as saying , “the man who beats him in the 120 yard [hurdle] event at the Pennsylvania relay meet will have to stagger the world’s record.” In May Thorpe competed in a tryout for the Olympic Pentathlon, a new event that consisted of five track and field competitions: 1) Running broad jump, 2) javelin throw with best hand, 3) 200-meters flat race, 4) discus throw with best hand, and 5) 1,500-meters flat race. He had not thrown the javelin previously but was expected to pick that up quickly. Also new to him was the 1,500-meters run in which his stamina was expected to carry him. Thorpe easily qualified for the Olympic team by winning three events: broad jump, discus and 200-meter run. He placed second in the other two, losing to the national champion in the javelin and finishing two yards behind the leader in the 1,500-meters. His prospects for a successful Olympics were good. Also named to the U.S. team to compete against Thorpoe in the pentathlon and decathlon was Avery Brundage.






Tewanima wins race & Arquette comes in 5th

Tewanima wins race & Arquette comes in 5th