Finland at the Olympics
Finland first competed at the Olympic Games in 1908. At the 1908 and 1912 Games, the Finnish team competed as a team from the Grand Duchy of Finland (the Grand Duchy of Finland existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire). Finland competed for the first time as a fully independent state in 1920. They have competed in every games since 1908.
At their first appearance in 1908, Finnish athletes won a total of five Olympic medals (one gold, silver and three bronzes). Wrestler Verner Weckman became the first Finnish Olympic gold medalist when he defeated fellow-Finnish wrestler Yrjö Saarela in the Men's Greco-Roman Light-Heavyweight division but he certainly will not be the last. As a matter of fact, Finland is one of only two countries that have won Olympic medals in every Summer Games they have attended. Finland are also the most successful country at the Olympic Games when the medal count is relative to population size.
And Finland has never missed a single Summer Olympics since their debut in 1908.
Finland also hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki where they also managed a respectable 8th place overall finish with a total of 69 participating countries. Finland is also one of the most consistent powerhouses in the Summer Games winning at least one gold medal since their debut except in 2004 and 2012.
For the Winter Games, the story is not that different for Finland. They are still one of the forces to be reckoned with winning Olympic medals since their debut in 1924 which was held in Chamonix, France where they ranked 2nd overall in a total of 16 participating nations. Finnish speed skated Clas Thunberg took a total of three gold medals and fellow speed skater Julius Skutnabb won another one. Thunberg and Skutnabb won one silver and another bronze each. In their Winter Games debut, Finland won a total of 11 Olympic medals. That set the trend for the following Winter Games where they have consistently ranked one of the top teams in every single meeting.
- Finland have hosted the summer Olympic Games once, in Helsinki 1952. They were also scheduled to host the Olympics in 1940 when Tokyo pulled out, however the Games were canceled altogether after the outbreak of WW2.
- At the opening ceremony in 1908, the Finnish team refused to carry a flag when they were told that they would have to march under the flag of Russia.
- At the 1912 Olympic Games opening ceremony, Finland's team paraded under the national insignia flag of a Swedish-speaking female gymnastics club in Helsinki.
- In Stockholm, 1912, Finland began its domination of long-distance running events, when Hannes Kolehmainen won three gold and one silver medal.
- A wrestling bout in 1912 between Estonia's Martin Klein and Finland's Alfred Asikainen lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes before Klein finally won.
- One of Finland's greatest Olympians is Distance runner Paavo Nurmi. In 1920, Nurmi won three medals for Finland. At the following Olympic Games in 1924, Nurmi won five gold medals; with his Finnish teammate Ville Ritola winning four gold medals. In 1928, Paavo Nurmi picked up another three medals, including one gold.
- Finland at the Winter Olympics
- The Russian Empire at the Olympics
- More trivia from each Country at the Olympic Games
- Helsinki Olympic Games 1952
- About sport in Finland