Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm
Date Started: July 13, 1912
Date Finished: July 15, 1912
Format: Scoring by 1912B point tables. The order of events was as follows: Day 1 (13 July) - 100 metres, Long jump, Shot put; Day 2 (14 July) - High jump, 400 metres, Discus throw, 110 metre hurdles; Day 3 (15 July) - Pole vault, Javelin throw, 1,500 metres.
|Gold:|| Hugo Wieslander
Prior to 1911, the multi-event for track & field athletes was the all-around championship, a 10-event competition emphasizing strength events. But in preparation for the 1912 Olympics, the Swedes devised another 10-event multi-event with more emphasis placed on speed and jumping ability. The first known competitions in the decathlon were conducted on 15 October 1911, both in Münster, Germany (won by Karl von Halt) and Göteberg, Sweden (won by Hugo Wieslander). In June 1912, Wieslander won two further Swedish decathlons in preparation for the Olympic Games. He was the Swedish favorite.
The American favorite was a remarkable Native American named Jim Thorpe. A descendant of the Sac and Fox tribe and an Irish father, Thorpe had starred in both football and baseball, as well as track, at the Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He had never competed in a decathlon prior to Stockholm, but at the eastern U.S. Olympic Trial in the pentathlon, he was so dominant that he was named to represent the United States in both the decathlon and the pentathlon. The Stockholm decathlon was expected to be a closely fought contest between Wieslander and Thorpe.
But it was not. One week after winning the pentathlon, Jim Thorpe won the decathlon by an almost laughable margin, establishing a new world record, and defeating Wieslander by almost 700 points. He won three events, had one second place, four thirds, and two fourths in the ten events. Using point-for-place scoring, he scored 25 points to Wieslander’s 67 and Charles Lomberg's 75.
At the closing ceremonies, Thorpe was presented his trophies by Sweden’s King Gustav V. The legend is that the King told him, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world,” and that Thorpe replied, “Thanks, King.” Whether the legend is true or not, the King was correct. But from 1913 until 1982 the Olympic record books invariably listed Hugo Wieslander as the 1912 Olympic decathlon champion.
In January 1913, newspaper stories broke noting that Jim Thorpe had played minor league baseball in North Carolina in 1909 and 1910. The United States AAU reacted quickly and declared Thorpe a professional. The IOC followed suit. Thorpe’s Olympic victories were taken from him and he was ordered to return his medals and trophies.
But the story never died. For years, many efforts were made to right what many perceived as a wrong and have the medals, the trophies, and the recognition returned to Jim Thorpe or his family. The trophies included the Challenge Trophy for the decathlon, which had been donated by the Czar of Russia. In 1982, the International Olympic Committee made partial restitution when they restored Thorpe’s amateur status, and declared him, in an unusual ruling, co-champion with Hugo Wieslander.
The story of Thorpe’s disqualification, the many attempts to restore his name, and the final work done which succeeded, is a long and complicated one. See the Jim Thorpe bio for further details.
|1||Jim Thorpe||24||United States||USA||Gold||8,412.955||6.565||WR|
|5||Jim Donahue||27||United States||USA||7,083.450||5.701|
|6||Roy Mercer||23||United States||USA||7,074.995||5.825|
|9||Karl von Halt||20||Germany||GER||6,682.445||5.286|
|AC||George Philbrook||27||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Avery Brundage||24||United States||USA||DNF|
|AC||Harry Babcock||21||United States||USA||DNF|