Exactly 96 years ago, on July 15, 1912, Jim Thorpe won the decathlon at the Stockholm Olympics and, in the closing ceremony, Sweden's King Gustav proclaims Thorpe the world's greatest athlete.
The 1912 Olympic decathlon has become legend because of the presence of Jim Thorpe. Jim had a terrific 1912 spring track season, winning as many as six events per meet. Thorpe made the U.S. Olympic team in four events: decathlon, pentathlon, high jump, and long jump. The Russian czar donated a Viking ship as a prize for the decathlon champion. Thorpe won the decathlon by almost 700 points over his closest opponent, Hugo Wieslander of Sweden. Because of the unexpected large number of entries, the decathlon was held over 3 days. The first day they held the 100 m run, long jump, and shot put. The second day consisted of the high jump, 400 m run, discus, and 110, hurdles. The third and final day consisted of the pole vault, javelin, and 1500 m run. Thorpe's 8412 points converts to 6564 points on the current tables, still a very respectable score three quarters of a century later. On this day today, exactly 96 years ago, Sweden's King Gustav proclaims Thorpe the world's greatest athlete.