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The rise, fall and posthumous rise of Jim Thorpe


Jim Thorpe! Does it ring a bell? Well arguably he was the greatest athlete of 20th century. Blessed with abundant natural talent in those days of amateurism, Thorpe virtually “torpedoed” the competition into submission by winning the gold medals in the Pentathlon and Decathlon events of 1912 Olympics. Encomiums were predictably showered upon him on his glorious Olympic victories by the Olympic authorities but heartbreak was only round the corner. Very soon his gold medals were cruelly withdrawn by that same Olympic officialdom which had sung his praises on the allegations that this versatile athlete had connections with professional baseball. Sadly, professionalism was a “Forbidden fruit” to myopic Olympic movement of those days. Should not best of athletes be allowed to participate in the greatest sporting event organized to showcase the best of athletic ability? Finally, sanity dawned upon Olympic movement and that is why we have modern-day NBA professionals “displaying their wares” in Olympics now. To complete the Thorpe saga, International Olympic Committee finally “realized their mistake” and his Olympic medals were restored posthumously, in 1982.


Times really have not changed. In the Biblical realm too we see people being consistent in their inconsistency while dealing with their heroes. Good many times, great motivators have been made heroes’ to be only reduced to zeroes the very next moment. Sad to say, people have been vacillating in their attitude towards the Almighty also (yes, He too has not been spared).

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