As the 2012 Summer Olympics are now under way in London, a look back in The Oklahoman shows the Stockholm Olympics were drawing to a close 100 years ago on July 15, 1912.
How exciting it must have been to have been a participant as the winners of gold, silver and bronze received their awards. The Oklahoman, July 16, 1912, described the spectacle on the front page:
“With the United States well in the lead in total number of points in all sports; with a sweeping victory to the credit of Yankee athletes in track and field events; and with an Oklahoma Indian, James Thorpe, proved the best all-around athlete in the world, the curtain has fallen upon the Olympic Games of 1912. Never before has there been such an assemblage of athletes, never before have the events been so hotly contested, and never before have previous records been bowled over so ruthlessly as in the fifth Olympiad.
“James Thorpe of the Carlisle Indian school proved himself easily the greatest all-around athlete of the world in the decathlon, which proved a variety of tests of speed, strength and quickness… .
“It seems marvelous that any capacity to shout was left in Stockholm after the last nine days but the victors got all due them when they received their laurels. … Three handsome stands were placed on the greensward and all the winners of first, second and third prizes marched into the arena and assembled in three groups before the stands. The athletes and gymnasts and officers of the various nations who competed in the military events were in uniform while the women prizewinners were variously attired.
“The king (Gustave of Sweden) conferred on the winners of each first prizes an oak wreath, a gold medal and a challenge cup. Crown Prince Gustave Adolph presented a silver medal to each member of the second group and Prince Charles, brother of the king, handed bronze medals to each of the third group. A herald in medieval costume called the name of each who then stepped forward and received the prize.
“(Jim) Thorpe was honored with a huge bronze trophy so large he could hardly carry it.”
As London presents this year’s Olympics, The Oklahoman will again keep us apprised of the competitions. Let us cheer all the competitors on, with special cheers for the 39 Oklahoman athletes, coaches and support staff. Four of the rowers trained on the Oklahoma River.