Paavo Nurmi

Paavo Nurmi - Updated Feb 2023

Most Popular
Updated On December 18, 2022

Paavo Nurmi was a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner from Helsinki, Finland. Moreover, Paavo Nurmi is better known as the “Flying Finn” and the “Phantom Finn”. Furthermore, Paavo has established 22 world records over distances ranging from 1500 meters to 20 kilometers.

Early Life

Paavo Nurmi was born in Turku, Grand Duchy of Finland on June 13, 1897. Paavo’s zodiac sign is Gemini and he was 76 years old at the time of his death. Moreover, Paavo’s real birth name is Paavo Johannes Nurmi.

His father Johan Fredrik Nurmi was a carpenter and his mother’s name is Matilda Wilhelmina Laine.

Moreover, Paavo has four siblings named Siiri, Saara, Martti and Lahja. In 1903, Paavo and his family relocated from Raunistula to a 40-square-meter flat in Turku’s city center.

Until 1932, Paavo lived in a 40-square-meter apartment in central Turku with his family. Moreover, Paavo’s father died in 1910 and his sister Lahja died a year later.

Paavo left school to work as an errand boy for a bakery due to the financial condition of his family. Later, Paavo was awarded a scholarship to study at Helsinki’s Teollisuuskoulu industrial school. In 1923, Paavo graduated as an engineer from the Teollisuuskoulu industrial school.


Paavo Nurmi

Caption: Paavo Nurmi’s bronze statue at the Ateneum museum in the late 1930s (Source: Wikipedia)

Paavo won three gold medals and one silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp in 1920. In 1924, Paavo won five gold medals at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Later in 1928, Paavo won one gold medal and two silver medals at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. Moreover, Paavo set twenty-two official world records at distances between 1500 meters and 20 kilometers.

Net Worth

Paavo Nurmi garnered a significant amount of money as a professional runner and his other business ventures. The estimated net worth of Paavo was around $1.5 million US dollars.

Professional life

Paavo Nurmi

Caption: Paavo Nurmi at the 1920 Olympic trials (Source: Wikipedia)

The English long-distance runner Alfred Shrubb inspired the young Paavo and his friends. Paavo and his friends regularly ran or walked six kilometers to swim in Ruissalo and sometimes they also ran twice a day.

Moreover, Paavo ran the 1500 meters in 5:02 when he was just eleven years old. Due to the financial difficulties and the death of his father and sister Lahja, Paavo worked as an errand boy for a bakery. Moreover, Paavo also left his school to work at the bakery.

Paavo got plenty of exercise pushing heavy carts up the steep slopes in Turku although he stopped running actively. After being inspired by the performances of Hannes Kolehmainen, Paavo rethought his interest in athletics at age of fifteen.

A few days later, Paavo bought his first pair of sneakers and trained. Additionally, Paavo joined the Turun Urheiluliitto sports club in 1914.

Moreover, Paavo made his international debut in August at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. During this Olympics, Paavo finished second to Frenchman Joseph Guillemot in the 5000 meters and took his first medal.

Furthermore, this is the only time that Paavo lost to a non-Finnish runner in the Olympics.

Paavo also won three gold medals in the three events the 10,000 meters race, cross country race, and cross country team event. Due to Paavo’s success in the Olympics, Paavo’s brought electric lighting and running water for his family in Turku.

Due to his defeat to Joseph, Paavo’s races became a series of experiments that he analyzed meticulously. Moreover, Paavo started to carry a stopwatch and spread his efforts more uniformly over the distance.

Setting World Records and Retirement

Paavo established his first world record in the 10,000 meters in Stockholm in 1921. Later, Paavo went on to set world records in 2000, 3000, and 5000-meter dashes in 1922. Paavo also added the records for the 1500 m and the mile a year later.

Moreover, Paavo tested his speed in 800 m and won the 1923 Finnish Championships with a new national record. In the spring of 1924, Paavo was endangered by a knee injury he recovered and resumed training twice a day in the 1924 Summer Olympics.

During the 1324 Olympics, Paavo set new world records for the 1500 m and the 5000 m at the Eläintarha Stadium in Helsinki. Moreover, Paavo also ran the first 800 m almost three seconds faster in the 1500 m final at the Olympics in Paris.

Furthermore, Paavo set a 10,000 m world record that would last for almost 13 years. However, Paavo only won one gold medal in 10,000 m at the 1928 Amsterdam summer Olympics. During this tournament, Paavo won two silver medals in the 5,000m and 3,000 m steeplechase.

Paavo was suspended and barred from competing in Los Angeles less than three days before the 10,000 m race by a special commission of the IAAF. Moreover, Paavo retired from running with a 10,000 m victory in Viipuri on 16 September 1934.

After Retirement Life and Death

Following his retirement, Paavo became a coach for the Finnish Athletics Federation, where he prepared runners for the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics.

After a tense 40–38 decision to reestablish sports connections with Sweden, Paavo and the whole board of directors resigned from the federation.

Later, Paavo returned to coaching after three months and helped to win three gold medals, three silver medals, and a bronze medal at the Games. Furthermore, Paavo also opened a men’s clothing store in Helsinki in 1936.

On October 2, 1973, Paavo died due to old age. Previously, Paavo was suffering from health problems, with at least one heart attack, a stroke, and failing eyesight.

Relationship Status

Paavo Nurmi married a socialite Sylvi Laaksonen in 1932 but separated in 1935. In 1933, Paavo’s wife Sylvi opposed Paavo raising their newborn son Matti to be a runner and stated to the Associated Press.

Moreover, Paavo’s son Matti Nurmi become a middle-distance runner, and later a “self-made” businessman. Besides that, there is no further information about Paavo’s other relationship.

Talking about Paavo’s rumors and controversy, he was not a part of them. Besides that, Paavo was focusing on his personal and professional life. Moreover, Paavo liked to keep a distance from the rumors and the controversy.

Paavo Nurmi – Body Measurement

Paavo Nurmi was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 65 Kg. Paavo had black hair and black eyes. Besides that, there is no further information about Paavo’s other body measurements.

Paavo Nurmi

Caption: Paavo Nurmi body measurement (Source: Wikipedia)

Paavo Nurmi – Social media

During Paavo’s era, there were not any kinds of social media platforms or mainly there was not even internet. Paavo was a hard-working person who trained hard to achieve his goals.