We have been fortunate, at @runblogrun, to have WA’s Seb Coe’s comments with Jeff Benjamin on all topics athletics. Seb Coe loves to speak on the sport, and he does it with eloquence.
I recall speaking with Seb at a media discussion on middle distances, sponsored by Nike in 2001 at the Edmonton WC. Seb was into it, and loved telling stories about the sport. Lord Coe knows that part of his job is to make the sport accessible to new media.
We are glad to see Seb Coe’s support of the late and great Jim Thorpe!
Athletic’s Living Olympic Legend Fights For Another Legend!
Seb Coe To Join The Attempt To Correct Jim Thorpe’s 1912 Olympic Records!
Updated Jan. 13, 2021
In late January, the International
Olympic Committee members will be launching their first meeting of 2021.
No doubt there will be a lot on the IOC plate – notably the 2021 Tokyo Games. But they might also revisit a long-standing injustice and IOC members will be presented with the opportunity to quash it once and for all.
Still out there all these years later is the 1912 Olympic Record status of the Great Jim Thorpe.
While many are wholly aware that the Sac & Fox Native-American (who, also with his exploits in baseball, basketball and especially football has been ranked as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century) was disqualified in 1912 from his Pentathlon & Decathlon victories and had his medals restored to his family in 1984 by the IOC (Thorpe himself passed away in 1953), controversy still arises from the issue.
The IOC to this day has neglected to restore Thorpe’s records and relegated him to co-champion–the silver winners, the athletes that Thorpe beat had their silver medals elevated to gold when Thorpe was stripped of his remarkable achievements. The IOC also allowed those athletes to keep their golds and have never changed the 1912 record books.
That controversial chapter of the Thorpe saga has kind of flown under the radar – after all, one might say that the family received their medals so the case is closed, right?
Not so, according to a new IOC member who knows the history quite thoroughly.
Joining the IOC only recently (What took them so long?) is one member who is not only associated with Thorpe in the world of Athletic Track & Field Olympic Immortality but also has a laser-like focus and memory of the Sport’s history, replete with the triumphs and the tragedies.
Let’s keep in mind that Sebastian Coe runs the Sport too!
The World Athletics leader spoke with media in December about the challenges faced by the Sport in 2021 and how World Athletics dealt with them pretty much successfully given the hand that was dealt.
“It is a testament to the Athletes and Coaches that we’ve weathered the challenges,” said Coe, espousing on 2020’s past positive accomplishments.
“The Sport is still front & center!”
Back in 1984, Seb Coe the author attempted to keep the Sport “front and center” in terms of historical inspiration.
His book, “The Olympians: A Quest for Gold- Triumphs, Tragedies and Legends” co-written with Nicholas Mason, is a solid historical record of Track & Field’s great Olympic moments, replete with some really iconic pictures going back to the 1896 Games.
The Olympians, book by Seb Coe and Nicholas Mason
“Of course, you can probably get a copy for under $20 today on Ebay!,” quipped Coe.
But the history is there for a reason. On a subject he has spoken about quite often, Coe has always invited others to become “Students of the Sport”.
“There are so many inspirational stories out there that young athletes can learn from them, know they’re not alone and can’t help but feel motivated,” said Coe in an interview in 2019. Indeed, Coe’s career emulates many in the book, as he has experienced the Olympic success of a Lasse Viren yet also the Olympic failures of a Jim Ryun, stories which he read and learned about as a youth athlete and carried with him through the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games.
But it is what he wrote about Jim Thorpe which carries a lot of weight.
Expertly writing about Thorpe’s rise in American Football “Thorpe was it’s most feared and most talented exponent…Had the Stockholm Olympics never taken place Jim Thorpe would still remain a legend as a high-class baseball player and a veritable giant in the annals of American football.”
But it is the Stockholm after-effects that show the Thorpe injustices and Coe writes passionately about it.
Accurately crediting the Swedes with creating the 1-Day Pentathlon (an event no longer contested) and 2-Day Decathlon events,
“The record books show that the Swedes took all 3 Decathlon/Pentathlon medals in Stockholm, and there is the suspicion that if that had been the whole story the rest of the world might well have forgotten the Decathlon and dropped it from the Athletics programme altogether. But apart from the odd footnote in small type, the record books omit the name of Jim Thorpe.”
Coe continued –
“The unquestioning sanctimoniousness which allowed the IOC, at the drop of a newspaper story, to strip Thorpe of his medals because he had once been paid peanuts for playing baseball in the college vacation reflects no credit at all on the movement, no less because it took them 70 years – well after Thorpe himself died in poverty – to change their minds and reinstate him and his performances.”
“But,” Coe concluded, “Thorpe’s feats of 1912 (they would have kept him at the top of the British Decathlon listings as late as 1962) fired America with the excitement of the event’s possibilities, and assured it an Olympic future.”
“Well, as you know, I’ve been consistent,” said Coe, almost 4 decades after those comments.
“What I have always said at clinics – especially for the youth athletes – besides mastering techniques is that you also must become students of the Sport.”
When informed about the new Hollywood movie on Thorpe, entitled “Bright Path Strong”, Coe was enthusiastic.
“I’m delighted that Hollywood is doing this movie,” said Coe. “It will derive real ambition and excitement and that for me is at the heart and soul of what we do!”
As for his support with the IOC?
“I haven’t changed my views and I will continue to support it!”
When also informed that Swimming Legend & Newly-Elected USOPC Member Donna de Varona has been involved in the campaign, Coe’s face lit up.
“I’m delighted that my old friend Donna de Varona is involved in it as well!”
Bell Lap –-For more information on the film please go to
– A petition for the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe into the official IOC record books can be found here at
– Robert Wheeler’s paramount Jim Thorpe biography is getting a reissue soon BUT if you wish to purchase a copy now check out