Jim Thorpe mismatched shoes 1912 Olympics

This is Jim Thorpe. Look closely at the photo, you can see that he’s wearing different socks and shoes. This wasn’t a fashion statement. It was the 1912 Olympics, and Jim, an American Indian from Oklahoma represented the U.S. in track and field. On the morning of his competitions, his shoes were apparently stolen.

One of Jim’s teammates gave him one shoe (who knows why not two) and the second was found in a garbage can, just prior to the 1500 run, That’s the pair that he’s wearing in the photo. But one of the shoes was too big, so he had to wear an extra sock. Wearing these shoes, Jim won at least two gold medals that day.

Here’s how the Smithsonian describes Thorpe’s performance during the 1912 Olympics:

Thorpe began the Olympics by crushing the field in the now-defunct pentathlon, which consisted of five events in a single day. He placed first in four of them, dusting his competition in the 1,500-meter run by almost five seconds.

A week later the three-day decathlon competition began in a pouring rain. Thorpe opened the event by splashing down the track in the 100-meter dash in 11.2 seconds — a time not equaled at the Olympics until 1948.

On the second day, Thorpe’s shoes were missing. [Track coach Glenn] Warner hastily put together a mismatched pair in time for the high jump, which Thorpe won. Later that afternoon came one of his favorite events, the 110-meter hurdles. Thorpe blistered the track in 15.6 seconds, again quicker than Bob Mathias would run it in ’48.

On the final day of competition, Thorpe placed third and fourth in the events in which he was most inexperienced, the pole vault and javelin. Then came the very last event, the 1,500-meter run. The metric mile was a leg-burning monster that came after nine other events over two days. And he was still in mismatched shoes.

The Smithsonian Museum

My Pondering

This is a perfect reminder that you don’t have to resign to the excuses that have held you back. Life isn’t always fair – newsflash.

So what are you going to do about it today?

Whatever you woke up with this morning; stolen shoes, ill health, failed relationships, don’t let it stop you from running your race will all you can muster with such a great cloud of witnesses above. You can experience more in life if you’ll get over the excuses and get on with living your divine purpose to fulfill your ultimate destiny. You can remain stuck all too legitimate reasons or you can earn mighty results but you can’t have both. Said another way, you can choose to be bitter over it or be better for it; bitter or better.

Nike, the shoe company’s iconic slogan was exemplified wonderfully by Thorpe, – Just do it. Now it’s our turn.

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