Olympics History >> Stockholm 1912 >> Key Moments

Stockholm 1912 - Key Moments

Hannes Kolehmainen: The Flying Finn

Even if he was less known than his compatriot Paavo Nurmi, Finn Hannes Kolehmainen created his own niche in Olympic history with four gold medals, three of which he earned in middle distance events during the 1912 Stockholm Games.

Kolehmainen achieved these spectacular results following an innovative and professional period of training (notably, with help from a psychologist), which would not have been possible without the financial help of his brother, a professional athlete in the United States.

On July 7, at the height of his form, he began what turned out to be an impressive string of victories, first winning the 10,000-meter qualifier in 33 minutes, 49 seconds.

The next day, he won the 10,000 final for the first Finnish medal of the Games. Despite the energy-sapping heat, Kolehmainen covered the distance in an impressive 31:20.8.

Epic duel

Forty-eight hours later, he recorded a time of 15:34.6 in the preliminary rounds of the 5,000, but he was not as quick as France's Jean Bouin, who set a new Olympic record with a time of 15:05.

On July 10, the anticipated final of the 5,000 produced one of the epic duels of the Olympic Games -- Kolehmainen and Bouin passed each other 16 times.

Twenty-five meters from the finish line, Kolehmainen, encouraged by the public, made a move Bouin was unable to counter, and Kolehmainen won his second gold medal.

In doing so, he became the youngest world record holder in the 5,000 with a time of 14:36.6.

After also beating the 3,000 world record in those preliminary rounds, the Finn pulled out of the final for scheduling reasons -- although he went on to take another gold medal in the individual cross country event and a silver in the team cross country event.

The Flying Finn once again illustrated his ability at the 1920 Games in Antwerp by winning the marathon title.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

Moment in Time