On this day 35 years ago, the International Olympic Committee posthumously restored Jim Thorpe’s Olympic medals, seven decades after he trounced his opponents with performances that still earn him the title of “greatest athlete of all time.” The two gold medals that he won in the multi-event pentathlon and decathlon were taken from him because he earned some money playing semipro baseball.
A Native American from Oklahoma, Thorpe was unrivaled as a college athlete who competed in football, baseball, track, lacrosse, hockey, handball, tennis, boxing, and even ballroom dancing. At the start of the year of the Stockholm games, 1912, Thorpe had never thrown a javelin or pole-vaulted, yet he placed third and fourth in the events… (1983)
The muscular athlete left his track opponents in the dust despite the fact that his shoes went missing and had to don a mismatched pair in time for the high jump and hurdles, which he won, and the 1,500-meter race where he crushed the field with a time that no one would beat for six decades.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- A.A. Milne, the English author of the famous Winnie-the-Pooh children’s books was born (1882)
- Eugene Ely landed an aircraft on a ship, the first time in history [used a tail hook] (1911)
- The Paris Peace Conference opened in Versailles (1919)
- Leningrad was liberated by Soviet forces ending the 3-year Nazi siege of that city (1944)
- Liberation of the Budapest ghetto by the Russian Army (1945)
- A cease fire pact with Israel and Egypt hastened an end to the Yom Kippur War (1974)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was officially observed for the first time in all 50 states (1993)
- Boerge Ousland of Norway became the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided, a ski journey made with kite assistance, which also earned him the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole, taking just 34 days (1997)
- In Sierra Leone the civil war was finally declared over (2002)
- The Obama Administration banned US hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding from prohibiting visitation rights for unmarried or gay partners of patients who designate them as loved ones (2011)
Also, on this day, is the birthday of actor-director-producer-musician–and baseball lover–Kevin Costner, who turns 63 years old today. (1955)