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Medal record

Nurmi at the 1920 Summer Olympics.
Men's athletics
Competitor for  Finland
Olympic Games
Gold 1920 Antwerp 10000 m
Gold 1920 Antwerp Individual cross country
Gold 1920 Antwerp Cross country team
Gold 1924 Paris 1500 m
Gold 1924 Paris 5000 m
Gold 1924 Paris Individual cross country
Gold 1924 Paris 5000 m cross country team
Gold 1924 Paris 3000 m team
Gold 1928 Amsterdam 10000 m
Silver 1920 Antwerp 5000 m
Silver 1928 Amsterdam 5000 m
Silver 1928 Amsterdam 3000 m steeplechase
Statue of Paavo Nurmi in front of the Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Paavo Johannes Nurmi (About this sound pronunciation ) (13 June 1897 – 2 October 1973) was a Finnish runner. Born in Turku, he was known as one of the "Flying Finns"; a term given to him, Hannes Kolehmainen, Ville Ritola and others for their distinction in running. During the 1920s, Nurmi was the best middle and long distance runner in the world, setting world records at distances between 1500 m and 20 km.

Nurmi won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928. In 1932, Nurmi was unable to compete at the Olympics, as he had received money for his running and was thus considered a professional.

Contents

Career

Olympic career

Nurmi debuted at the 1920 Summer Olympics by competing in four events. He won three gold medals: the 10,000 m, the cross country event and the cross country team event, and finished second in the 5000 m.

In 1924, he won five gold medals in five events, including the 1500 m, 5000 m (with only 26 minutes between the final races; as a try out he had broken the world record in both of these events earlier the same year, the 3000 m team race, and again both cross country events. It was the last time these cross country events were held, as the great heat caused more than half of the competitors to abandon the race, and many more had to be taken to hospital. Finnish officials, fearing for his health, refused to enter Nurmi in the 10,000 m event. Thus, he was unable to defend his title. An angry Nurmi protested after returning to Finland by setting a 10,000 m world record that would last for almost 13 years.

Nurmi ended his Olympic career at the 1928 Summer Olympics, winning the 10,000 m and two silver medals (5000 m and 3000 m steeplechase).

Nurmi has won the most Olympic medals in Track & Field, 12 total. He ties Larissa Latynina, Mark Spitz, and Carl Lewis[1] with nine Olympic gold medals, second only to Michael Phelps with fourteen.[2] Due to this fact, he is often considered the greatest Track & Field athlete of all time.

During his competitive running career, which lasted from about 1919 to 1934, Nurmi earned a reputation for speaking very little off the track. An illustration of this was his two-word reply to a congratulatory speech during his 1925 tour of the United States: "Thank you!". In contrast to another famous early 20th-century Finnish Olympic running champion, Hannes Kolehmainen, he also rarely smiled in public. No wonder he was nicknamed "A Great Silent One" (Suuri vaikenija) by some contemporary Finns (see, for example, Antero Raevuori, "Paavo Nurmi: The King of Runners" / Paavo Nurmi: Juoksijoiden kuningas, published in Finland in the late 1980s).

Nurmi was a vegetarian from the age of 12.[3]

Later life

Nurmi continued to run after the Olympics in Amsterdam with every intent to compete in the 10,000 m and marathon events at the 1932 Summer Olympics, but he was branded a professional and barred from running in Los Angeles. The main conductors of the ban were the Swedish officials, especially Sigfrid Edström, the president of the IAAF and vice-president of the IOC. Edström claimed that Nurmi had received too much money for his travel expenses to a meet in Germany. This was seen as jealousy by many in Finland and in part led to Finland refusing to participate in the traditional Finland-Sweden international athletics event until 1939 (see Raevuori, "Paavo Nurmi").

However, Nurmi did travel to Los Angeles and kept training at the Olympic Village. Despite pleas from all the entrants of the marathon, Nurmi was not allowed to compete at the Games. Although he had suffered from injuries, he claimed he would have won the marathon by five minutes after the event was over. He had set his heart on ending his career with a marathon gold medal, as his fellow countryman Hannes Kolehmainen had done shortly after the First World War (see Raevuori, "Paavo Nurmi").

A Finnish national hero, Paavo Nurmi was the lighter of the Olympic Flame at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. In retirement he ran a haberdashery store in Helsinki, and owned a housing construction company which built several houses and apartment buildings around Helsinki (see Raevuori, "Paavo Nurmi").

Nurmi had a brief marriage with Sylvi Nurmi, from 1932 to 1935. Their son Matti was a Finnish national-level middle-distance runner in the 1950s.

A widely publicized practical joke by students at the Helsinki University of Technology took place in 1961, when a team of students smuggled a statue of Nurmi onto the 300-year-old wreck of the Swedish Regalskeppet Vasa just days before its lifting from the bottom of the sea[4]

In his final years, starting around 1967, when he allowed the Finnish President Urho Kekkonen (a personal and sports friend)to interview him for his 70th birthday over the Finnish Public Radio YLE, Nurmi gave more newspaper and magazine interviews. Suffering from health problems especially since the late 1960s, with at least one heart attack, a stroke and failing eyesight, he at times spoke bitterly about sports, calling it a waste of time compared to science and art (see Raevuori, "Paavo Nurmi"). Nurmi died in 1973 in Helsinki and was given a state funeral.

References

  1. ^ http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080812/ts_nm/olympics_dc_136
  2. ^ Wallechinsky, David; Jaime Loucky (2008). The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2008 Edition. Aurum Press. pp. 1178. ISBN 978-1-84513-330-6. 
  3. ^ Seiro, Arno; Jari Väliverronen (2007-06-22). "HS etsii Suomen merkittävintä urheilusaavutusta" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. http://www.hs.fi/urheilu/artikkeli/HS+etsii+Suomen+merkitt%C3%A4vint%C3%A4+urheilusaavutusta/1135228213483. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  4. ^ Ilta-Sanomat 5 July 1961 "Vasan veijarit", scan available at archive.org dump of ttky.fi.

External links

Records
Preceded by
Sweden John Zander
Men's 1,500 m World Record Holder
19 June 1924 – 11 September 1926
Succeeded by
Germany Otto Peltzer
Preceded by
United States Norman Taber
Men's Mile World Record Holder
23 August 1923 – 4 October 1931
Succeeded by
France Jules Ladoumègue
Preceded by
Sweden John Zander
Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder
27 August 1922 – 7 June 1925
Succeeded by
Sweden Edvin Wide
Preceded by
Sweden Edvin Wide
Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder
24 May 1926 – 19 June 1932
Succeeded by
Poland Janusz Kusociński
Preceded by
France Jean Bouin
Men's 10,000 m World Record Holder
22 June 1921 – 25 May 1924
Succeeded by
Finland Ville Ritola
Preceded by
Finland Ville Ritola
Men's 10,000 m World Record Holder
31 August 1924 – 18 July 1937
Succeeded by
Finland Ilmari Salminen
Preceded by
Sweden John Zander
European Record Holder Men's 1500m
19 June 1924 - 10 September 1926
Succeeded by
Germany Otto Peltzer
Olympic Games
Preceded by
John Mark
Final Summer Olympic Torchbearer
with Hannes Kolehmainen

Helsinki 1952
Succeeded by
Ron Clarke & Hans Wikne







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