Hannes Kolehmainen

Hannes Kolehmainen

Hannes Kolehmainen
Hannes Kolehmainen in 1920
Personal information
Born 9 December 1889
Kuopio, Finland
Died 11 January 1966 (aged 76)
Helsinki, Finland
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight 57 kg (126 lb)
Sport Running
Club Helsingin Jyry
FAAC, New York

Juho Pietari "Hannes" Kolehmainen (   ; 9 December 1889 – 11 January 1966) was a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner. He was the first in a generation of great Finnish long distance runners, often named the "Flying Finns". Kolehmainen competed for a number of years in the United States, wearing the Winged Fist of the Irish American Athletic Club.[1] He also enlisted in the 14th Regiment of the National Guard of New York,[1] and became a U.S. citizen in 1921.[2]


Kolehmainen, a devoted vegetarian[1] and bricklayer by trade,[2] was from a sportive family from Kuopio – his brothers William and Tatu were also strong long distance runners. Tatu competed in two Olympics and finished 10th in the Marathon in 1920. Hannes was one of the stars of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, winning three gold medals. His most memorable was the one in the 5000 m. In that event, he ran a heroic duel with Frenchman Jean Bouin. After leading the field together for most of the race, Bouin was only defeated by Kolehmainen in the final metres, in world record time. In addition, Kolehmainen won the 10000 m and the now discontinued cross country event. With the Finnish team, he also obtained a silver place in the cross country team event.[3]

At the time, Finland was still a part of Russia, and although there was a separate Finnish team at the Olympics, the Russian flag was raised for Kolehmainen's victories, making him say that he "almost wished he hadn't won".

Kolehmainen's sportive career was interrupted by the First World War, but he remained an athlete to be reckoned with, although his specialty had now shifted to the longer distances, especially the marathon. At the first post-war Olympics in Antwerp, he won the gold medal in this event. He would also enter the Olympic marathon in 1924, but did not complete that race.[3]

By then, Kolehmainen had found a worthy successor in Paavo Nurmi. Together with Nurmi, he lit the Olympic Flame at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He died in that same city, fourteen years later.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Smooth Stride Chief Asset of Kolehmainen; Great Finnish Distance Runner, Who Has Plucked Titles Galore, Trains Earnestly and Has Amazing Stamina" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 March 1919. Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Hannes Kolehmainen, Marathon Champion, Is Now U.S. Citizen" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 January 1921. Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c "Hannes Kolehmainen Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Profile in Database Olympics

Preceded by
Jean Bouin
Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder
24 September 1911 – 24 May 1912
Succeeded by
Bror Fock
Preceded by
Bror Fock
Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder
12 July 1912 – 15 July 1918
Succeeded by
John Zander
Preceded by
Alexis Ahlgren
Men's Marathon World Record Holder
22 August 1920 – 12 October 1925
Succeeded by
Albert Michelsen
Olympic Games
Preceded by
John Mark
Final Summer Olympic Torchbearer
with Paavo Nurmi

Helsinki 1952
Succeeded by
Ron Clarke & Hans Wikne