Highway marker honoring Native American athlete is missing
ROCKY MOUNT, NC (AP) — A highway marker in North Carolina honoring a Native American Olympic gold medalist has gone missing, officials say.
The marker honoring James “Jim” Francis Thorpe was reportedly still at its post in Rocky Mount as of last week, news outlets report, citing a state news release. The state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is now asking for the public’s help in recovering the marker, according to the statement.
Thorpe was born on an Oklahoma reservation in 1888 and became a professional baseball player in 1909 when he joined the Rocky Mount Railroaders in North Carolina, according to the state’s website about the marker. He also played professional football and was a standout in track and field, winning gold medals in the pentathlon and the decathlon at the Olympics in Stockholm three years later, it says. It was then that he was declared the “greatest athlete in the world” by the King of Sweden. A town in Pennsylvania is named after him.
Thorpe later lost his gold medals after word spread that he had played minor league baseball, effectively removing his amateur status during the Olympic games. Decades later, the International Society of Olympic Historians added Thorpe’s name to the list of athletes crowned at the 1912 games. But the official record was never modified to show his winnings, meaning the falsely elevated runners-up are still listed as medal winners, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.
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