Peter Dahlén1 och Kalle Virtapohja2
1 Universitety of Bergen; 2 Independent scholar
Paavo Nurmi is one of the world’s greatest Olympians of all time. He was a Finnish middle- and long-distance runner who won nine golds in three Olympics: 1920, 1924 and 1928. Paavo Nurmi was born in 1897 and died in 1973. He is a great national hero in Finland.
In this article, Paavo Nurmi’s competitions in 1923, a hundred years ago, in Norway and Sweden are depicted. Nurmi’s participation in the sports club Ørnulf’s anniversary competitions in June 16–18 in what was then Kristiania (now Oslo) became his only one in Norway during his career and was met with great interest. Nurmi won the distances he competed in.
The Ørnulf competitions were also the prelude to the long-awaited championship meeting between Nurmi and the Finnish-born Swede Edvin Wide at the Stockholm Stadium on August 23–24. It would finally be decided which of them was the best. There was also national prestige involved. Nurmi emerged victorious from the battle. In between, Sweden’s Sports Games were arranged in Gothenburg during the summer. These were surrounded with controversy regarding Nurmi’s decision not to participate, which is also discussed in the article.
KALLE VIRTAPOHJA is a Finnish writer with a special interest in sports history. His doctoral thesis in 1998 at the University of Jyväskylä dealt with the history of sports journalism in Finland and the way sports heroes have been described in the press over the years. Virtapohja has written books about, among others, Paavo Nurmi, Urho Kekkonen, Iivo Niskanen and Lauri Pihkala.
PETER DAHLÉN is a Professor of media studies at the University of Bergen and a sports historian, and he lives in Moss. He received his doctorate in 1999 at the University of Gothenburg on a thesis on the history of Swedish radio sports 1925–1995. Dahlén has also written a biography of the sports leader and radio gymnast Colonel Bertil Uggla, as well as published a great number of articles about Swedish and international sports from a medial, historical and popular culture perspective.
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