Lauri Aleksanteri LEHTINEN

Olympic Medals
Games Participations2
First Olympic GamesLos Angeles 1932
Year of Birth1908


Lauri Lehtinen broke the 5,000 world record (14:17.0) just one month prior to the 1932 Olympics, which marked him as a favorite for the Olympic 5,000 metres. In the Olympic final, Lehtinen and his teammate, Lauri Virtanen, led the race from the early laps, but the race eventually turned into a battle between Lehtinen and American Ralph Hill. On the final straight, Hill moved out to pass Lehtinen, but the Finn blocked him, zig-zagging from one lane to the other to the great exasperation of the American crowd, and Lehtinen held off Hill for the gold medal. The crowd in the LA Coliseum was unhappy and severely booed Lehtinen, causing the address announcer, Bill Henry, to warn them, “Please, remember. These people are our guests.” Hill declined to protest, and they both were both given the time of 14:30.0.

At the 1936 Summer Olympics, Lehtinen couldn’t defend his title, finishing second behind fellow Finn Gunnar Höckert. Lehtinen won Finnish 5K titles in 1931 and 1935. In 1940, Lehtinen donated his Los Angeles gold medal to a soldier who had served with distinction on the Karelian Isthmus. Lehtinen’s gesture was a mark of respect for Höckert, who was killed in action on the Isthmus during the Winter War.

Personal Best: 5000 – 14:16.9 (1932).

Olympic Results

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