Biography of Famous Olympic Track and Field Athlete Paavo Nurmi

About the biography of the famous olympic track and field athlete Paavo Nurmi, history and information.

Paavo Nurmi

As a boy he made deliveries by pushing a heavy cart up a steep hill. As a man, his legs found lighter work. They carried him to 20 world records during 12 years of competition. He had been called the greatest middle-distance runner of all time and the premier athlete of sport's Golden Age.

Paavo Nurmi was born in Turku, Finland, in 1897. He set his goals early and pursued them with grim determination and a grueling regimen. To develop an even pace, he bounded along behind trolley cars. To be sure that his pacing was true, he raced with a stopwatch in his hand.

It worked. Paavo broke every record in the book from 1500-m. to 10,000-m.; he shattered every mark from one to 6 mi.; and he claimed the one-hour distance mark by running 11 mi., 1,648 yds. in 60 minutes, a record that stood for 17 years.

In 1931, moving 2 mi. in less than 9 minutes was considered a feat that no human could achieve without a bicycle. Running on boards in Madison Square Garden, Nurmi became the 1st to cover the distance under 9:00. His time: 8:59.5.

He set 6 world marks in the 3 Olympics from 1920 to 1928 and 3 of those championships came within 48 hours. At Paris in 1924, 27 years old and at his peak, the long-legged, bigchested Finn ran 6 races in 6 days. He won the 1500-m. in 3:53.6 and within 1 1/2 hours came back to win the 5000-m. in 14:31.2, both world marks. Two days later, in blistering heat, he captured the cross-country title.

The Flying Finn was finally beaten in 1932, by bureaucracy. While he wanted to end his career with a victory in the Olympic marathon in Los Angeles, Nurmi was barred from competition and suspended from the amateur ranks because he allegedly had made a small profit on an expense account.

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