Finnish schoolboy Toni Nieminen was just 16 years old when he arrived at these Games, but he already commanded global attention. The young ski jumper had dominated that season’s Four Hills competition, and already had a World Cup title to his name, so he was accustomed to success. And he seemed completely immune to the sort of nerves that often beset older, more experienced jumpers.
In the large hill event, Nieminen was supreme. His nearest challenger was another teenage star – 17-year-old Austrian Martin Höllwarth. The pair were first and second after the opening jump, but Nieminen had jumped more than a metre further and held a handy lead. Höllwarth produced another great jump in the second round, but then watched in astonishment as Nieminen soared more than six metres beyond his mark to win the gold medal by a huge margin.
Nieminen took a bronze in the normal hill and then picked up his second gold of the Games in the team event. He returned home as the youngest ever winner of an individual gold medal at the Winter Games, a record that still stands today.
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