Hannes Kolehmainen
Hannes Kolehmainen in 1920
Personal information
Born9 December 1889
Kuopio, Finland
Died11 January 1966 (aged 76)
Helsinki, Finland
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Weight57 kg (126 lb)
ClubHelsingin Jyry
FAAC, New York
Medal record
Representing Finland Finland
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1912 Stockholm 5000 metres
Gold medal – first place 1912 Stockholm 10000 metres
Gold medal – first place 1912 Stockholm Individual cross country
Gold medal – first place 1920 Antwerp Marathon
Silver medal – second place 1912 Stockholm Team cross country

Juho Pietari "Hannes" Kolehmainen (Finnish: [ˈhɑnːes ˈkolehmɑi̯nen] ; 9 December 1889 – 11 January 1966) was a Finnish four-time Olympic gold medalist and a world record holder in middle- and long-distance running.[1] 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.[2] He also enlisted in the 14th Regiment of the National Guard of New York,[2] and became a U.S. citizen in 1921.[3]


Portrait of Hannes Kolehmainen, [ca. 1912]

Kolehmainen, a devoted vegetarian[2] and bricklayer by trade,[3] 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 10,000 m and the now-discontinued cross country event. With the Finnish team, he also obtained a silver place in the cross country team event.[4]

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.[4]

By then, Kolehmainen had found a worthy successor in Paavo Nurmi. Together with Nurmi, as the final link in the torch relay, he lit the Olympic Flame at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. He died in that same city, fourteen years later.[4]


  1. ^ "Hannes Kolehmainen". Olympedia. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b "Hannes Kolehmainen, Marathon Champion, Is Now U.S. Citizen" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 January 1921. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  4. ^ a b c "Hannes Kolehmainen Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
Records Preceded byJean Bouin Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder 24 September 1911 – 24 May 1912 Succeeded byBror Fock Preceded byBror Fock Men's 3,000 m World Record Holder 12 July 1912 – 15 July 1918 Succeeded byJohn Zander Preceded byAlfred Shrubb Men's 5,000 m World Record Holder 10 June 1912 – 12 September 1922 Succeeded byPaavo Nurmi Preceded by Alexis Ahlgren Men's Marathon World Record Holder 22 August 1920 – 12 October 1925 Succeeded by Albert Michelsen Olympic Games Preceded byEigil Nansen Final Olympic torchbearer Helsinki 1952 With: Paavo Nurmi Succeeded byGuido Caroli Preceded byJohn Mark Final Summer Olympic torchbearer Helsinki 1952 With: Paavo Nurmi Succeeded byRon Clarke & Hans Wikne