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NURMI Paavo
NURMI Paavo

Paavo NURMI

  • G 9
  • S 3
  • B 0

Paavo Nurmi is one of the most successful male athletes in Olympic history and one of only four athletes to win nine Olympic gold medals.

Golden debut

Nurmi was part of a talented group of Finnish athletes who were nicknamed the ‘Flying Finns’. He made his Olympic debut at the 1920 Antwerp Games. He took the competition by storm winning gold medals in the 10,000m, the cross-country individual and team event. He also claimed a silver in the 5,000m.

Brilliance in Paris

At the 1924 Paris Games, Nurmi made history by becoming the first athlete ever to win five gold medals at a single Olympic Games. In the space of four astonishing days, Nurmi won the 1500m, the 5,000m, the 3,000m team event and the two cross-country events.

The one that got away

Nurmi had hoped to defend his 10,000m title, but Finnish officials,  fearing for his health, refused to enter him in the event. Back in Finland, an angry Nurmi made his point by setting a 10,000m world record that would last for almost 13 years.

Professional controversy

At the 1928 Amsterdam Games, Nurmi completed his Olympic career by winning the 10,000m and earning silver medals in the 5,000m and the steeplechase. By this time, Nurmi was so famous he was invited to become the main attraction in athletic meets worldwide. This prompted the IAAF to brand him a professional, causing him to miss out on the 1932 Olympic Games and a possible 10th gold medal.

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Gallery

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The essence of Finnish Olympic legends

Highlights of some of the best Finnish athletes from the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
IOC
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Would you like to win an island?

Organisers of the Paavo Nurmi Games have offered a Turku island to the winner of the javelin if he can break the Finnish record of 93.09m
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Finland's Paavo Nurmi's Middle Distance Nine Golds

Finland middle-distance runner Paavo Nurmi won an incredible 9 gold medals in the 1920s Olympic games and is still a legend in his homeland.
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Paavo Nurmi - The ''Flying Finn'' at the Olympic Games

The Finnish Olympic Legend at the Olympic Games and as the torchbearer at the 1952 Helsinki Games.
IOC
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https://olympic-vh.akamaihd.net/i/Assets/MediaPlayer/Videos/Streaming/1928/05/17/Flying Finn Ritola signs off with fifth gold/ritola_ ville_1928s_,0200,0400,0600,1200,1800,2500,3500,4500,6500,8500,.mp4.csmil/master.m3u8

Flying Finn Ritola signs off with fifth gold

Ville, or Willie, Ritola unfortunately played second fiddle during one of the greatest dynasties Olympic track and field has ever witnessed.


Much like the Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate distance running now, in the 1920s success in the longer events was the sole preserve of the Finns.

At the forefront of that success was the inimitable Paavo Nurmi -– whose record of nine golds stood until American swimmer Michael Phelps finally broke it – and Ritola had to long live in the shadow of his legendary countryman.

 

Ritola had a commanding Olympic record; four years earlier at the Games in Paris he won four golds and two silvers and his tally would have been better but for the ever-present Nurmi.

He finished runner-up to his fellow Finn in the 5,000m and the cross country but shattered his own world record in winning the 10,000m by a huge distance.

 

Four years later and again the medals were expected to be shared between the two team mates. Nurmi won his ninth and last gold medal in a scintillating 10,000m with Ritola clinging on until a burst down the home straight sent Nurmi past the tape about two metres clear.

Then in the 5,000m, Ritola was eager for revenge and it proved to be a highly tactical race in front of a packed, expectant crowd at the Olympic Stadium.

 

Nurmi upped the pace at halfway and most of the field were lagging badly. Ritola and Swede Edvin Wide kept up with the Finn and as the event entered the final 400m it was a three-horse race.
But with Ritola at the front, his head ducking inside to catch a glimpse of Nurmi on his shoulder, the decisive break came with 150 metres to go.

Ritola burst clear and Nurmi immediately glanced back to ensure his silver was safe knowing his countryman’s burst of speed had put the gold beyond him.

 

 

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Opening Ceremony Helsinki 1952

Paavo Nurmi as the last torchbearer carrying the Olympic flame

©IOC
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Results

  • Games
    Result
    Sport
    Event
  • G 30:18.8
    Athletics
    10000m men
    S 14:40.0
    Athletics
    5000m men
    S 9:31.2
    Athletics
    3000m steeplechase men
  • G 14:31.2
    Athletics
    5000m men
    G 11 P.
    Athletics
    cross country team men
    G 8 P.
    Athletics
    3000m team men
    G 32:54.8
    Athletics
    cross country individual men
    G 3:53.6
    Athletics
    1500m men
  • G 31:45.8
    Athletics
    10000m men
    S 15:00.0
    Athletics
    5000m men
    G 27:15.0
    Athletics
    cross country individual men
    G 10 P.
    Athletics
    cross country team men

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