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The Decathlon Turns 100

The first "greatest athletes" competition began on July 13, 1912.

The first “greatest athletes” competition began on July 13, 1912.

It’s been 100 years since 29 athletes stood at the start line of the world’s first decathlon. They were in Stockholm, the host city of the 1912 Olympics.

In that first group, three Americans and six Swedes were present. After three days’ of fierce competition, only 10 of the original 29 competitors remained.

The winner was one of the greatest all-around American athletes to ever compete in track and field: Jim Thorpe. The Native American was so dominant, the gap between first and second place was an incredible 700 points.

At the award ceremonies, Swedish King Gustav V famously told Thorpe: “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.”

But things turned sour for Thorpe after those games. A newspaper story wrote about how Thorpe had played baseball before the Games and had been paid for it–a violation of the IOC’s then-strict amateurs-only policy.

It wasn’t until 1982, 29 years after Thorpe’s death, that he his titles were reinstated.

For More: IAAF