News08 Mar 2012

Hall of Fame Profile - Paavo Nurmi (Finland)


The statistics for Nurmi make incredible reading.

He won nine Olympic gold medals and set no less than 22 official, as well as 13 unofficial, world records in distance running events.

At the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, he triumphed over 10,000m on the track and took individual and team gold medals in the cross country race.

Four years later, Nurmi was at his peak and invincible. Three weeks before his first event at the Olympics, he set 1500m and 5000m world records in Helsinki with the gun going on the races only 55 minutes apart.

Under the same conditions as his test, he won the 1500m and 5000m in Paris in less than an hour.

Two days later defended his cross country titles before getting his fifth gold medal in four days in the 3000m team race.

Nurmi also wanted to run the 10,000m but Finnish officials refused to enter him, fearing for his health if he ran in too many races.

However, he showed what he was capable of over the distance seven weeks after his last race in Paris and sliced 17 seconds off the world record, a mark which was to last for almost 13 years.

He regained his 10,000m Olympic crown in Amsterdam four years later and also got 5000m and 3000m steeplechase silver medals there.

In 1952, when Helsinki staged the Olympic Games. Nurmi was given the honour of lighting the Olympic flame and Finland showed their further appreciation of his achievements when he was given a state funeral upon his death in 1973.