1912 Olympics – Jim Thorpe perseveres to win gold

Jim Thorpe at the 1912 Olympics

It was summer of 1912, the Olympics in Sweden. Jim Thorpe, a Native American from the Sac and Fox tribe in Oklahoma, was representing the U.S. in four events, including the decathlon, which would determine the greatest athlete in the world.

The decathlon took place over three days. On the morning of day two, when Jim went to gather his track shoes for competition, they were missing. 

Without a store to purchase a new pair from, he and his track coach went scouring trash bins looking for a discarded pair. His coach found a right shoe and a left one.  They were different styles, different sizes. One shoe fit fine. The other was too big. But given time constraints this was his best option. So on the foot with the big shoe, Jim put on two pairs of socks.

Wearing these track shoes, Jim came in first place. And he didn’t just win, he dominated, wining by a margin of about 700 points. 

Jim returned home to a ticker tape parade down Broadway in NY. His name was in the papers, the pride of nation. He was the greatest athlete in the world.