The World Athletics Heritage Plaque, awarded in December 2018 to jointly honour Paavo Nurmi and the Paavo Nurmi Games, was presented last night at the start of the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Meeting in Turku.
The ceremony was led by Ilkka Kanerva, a former Finnish Foreign Minister and IAAF Council Member, who is Chairman of the Paavo Nurmi Games. Kanerva, who delivered the opening address, was accompanied by Meeting Director Jari Salonen and current World Athletics Council Member Antti Pihlakoski, who made the presentation on behalf of World Athletics.
The ceremony took place on the track of the Paavo Nurmi Stadium. It featured a two-minute video message from World Athletics President Sebastian Coe which was shown on the stadium’s giant screen.
The Paavo Nurmi Games (plaque category: Competition), which were inaugurated in 1957 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Nurmi, was honoured this year by the presence of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.
Paavo Nurmi (plaque category: Legend) was known as 'The Phantom Finn', a nickname coined by US sports writers to describe Nurmi who was elusive on the track. Three weeks before the 1924 Paris Olympics, he set 1500m and 5000m world records in Helsinki with the races only 55 minutes apart.
Under the same conditions as his test, he sped to the 1924 Olympic 1500m and 5000m titles in less than an hour, two of the five golds which he won in Paris.
Following the Games, the Finn toured the United States racing 55 times in five months, winning 53, abandoning once and losing only once.
1920, 1924, 1928 Olympic Games – 9 gold and 3 silver medals. 22 ratified world records
Chris Turner for World Athletics Heritage