In Paris, Paavo Nurmi expected to take part in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres, but the finals of these two events took place on the same day with only a short interval between them. Worse still, the runner had injured his knee a few months before the Games. However, it would have taken more than that to discourage the headstrong Finn, who kept up his preparations. His determination bore its fruit. On 19 June 1924 in Helsinki, he established two new world records in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres in the same day. Would he manage the same double at the Olympic Games in Paris?
Five gold medals in a row
A month later, Nurmi was on the starting line for the Olympic 1,500 and then the 5,000 metres final in the Colombes stadium. He won, without too much difficulty, the 1,500 metres ahead of Switzerland’s Wilhelm Schärer. He then went on to the 5,000 metres, where he faced his most fierce opponent, Ville Ritola. This compatriot had already won the 10,000 metres and the 3,000 metres steeplechase. Nurmi finally won this Finnish head-to-head.
With his stopwatch in his hand, Nurmi managed his races methodically. Henceforth, time no longer counted. As a real athletics legend, Paavo Nurmi appears as a statue in the Olympic Museum park in Lausanne. His bronze effigy with its timeless stride speaks just as much as all the superlatives used to describe the man.