1912 Stockholm Olympic Games

Of all the Olympics that had taken place to date, the Stockholm Olympics of 1912 was the most successful.

One could not fault the organisation and the sporting facilities and these games served as a model for future Olympiards.

Officials were trained, and a comprehensive list of official events was created. A stadium to accommodate 22,000 spectators and a new swimming pool were constructed. There was also housing for athletes – the first Olympic Village. Thus the Games entered the modern age of Olympic competition.

A feature which distinguished the Games was the high level of international friendship.There were no protests or arguments as occurred in the 1908 Olympics. Most of the athletes mixed well and it appeared that the Olympic community was taking shape.

Gymnastics became a major sport.

1275 athletes from 13 countries competed in the various gynmastics events. Swimming also took a more prominent place in the program with 313 competitors from 18 countries competing.

Both Australia and Japan showed that they were beginning to produce world-class swimmers.

The 1912 Olympics also introduced 2 major technical innovations. Electronic timing devices and a public address system were used for the first time.

The Olympics also took on a new and more prominent profile as these Games received extensive (front page) media coverage in the U.S.

Boxing which was illegal in Sweden was dropped from the program. This resulted in the I.O.C. taking on the responsibility of determining which sports would be included in future Olympic programs.

With encouragement from de Coubertin, the modern pentathlon was introduced as was equestrian competition.

The top track and field athlete was 22-year old Finnish vegetarian, Hannes Kolehmainen.He won golds in the 5000m, 10,000m and 12,000 m. cross-country events. He also won silver in the 12,000m team race.

The top U. S. runner was Ralph Craig,from the University of Michigan, who won both sprints.
He won gold for in the 100m and 200m sprints.

He returned 36 years later to compete in a yachting event.

But the great Jim Thorpe was the star of the Games.(He was a 24-year-old American Indian
born on a farm near the town of Prague ,Oklahoma. His father was part Irish, Sac and Fox Indian. His mother,was part French & Potawatomie and Kickapoo Indian. They gave him the Indian name “Wa-Tho-Huck,” or “Bright Path.”). 
Thorpe won both the pentathlon and decathlon without any difficulty.

At the medal ceremony Swedish King Gustav V congratulated him with the words, “You Sir are the greatest athlete in the world’ . To which Thorpe is said to have replied, “Thanks, King.” Czar Nicholas of Russia sent him a silver model of a Viking ship as a reward.

Thorpe returned to the US a hero. However, it was discovered in January of 1913 that he had played minor league baseball for $60 a month in 1909 and 1910. He was thus declared professional and
was forced to return the medals. He was stripped of his medals by the IOC with the support of the American Olympic Committee and his name was expunged from the Olympic records. Thorpe died in 1953. The medals and records were restored in 1983, 30 years after Thorpe’s death.

Other highlights included South Africa’s Rudolph Lewis running the Games’ longest road race: 320 km in 10.45 hours. Japan also enters the Games for the first time, sending 14 athletes.