Finland at the 1908 Summer Olympics

Finland competed at the Summer Olympic Games for the first time at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. The Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian Empire at the time, but Finland had become a sovereign member of the International Olympic Committee in 1907.

Finland at the
1908 Summer Olympics
Flag of Russia.svg
IOC codeFIN
NOCFinnish Olympic Committee
Websitesport.fi/olympiakomitea (in Finnish and Swedish)
in London
Competitors62 (62 men and 0 women) in 6 sports and 23 events
Flag bearerBruno Zilliacus
Medals
Ranked 13th
Gold
1
Silver
1
Bronze
3
Total
5
Summer Olympics appearances (overview)
Other related appearances
1906 Intercalated Games

MedalsEdit

Verner Weckman became the first Finn to win an Olympic gold. He had also been the first Finn to win a gold at the 1906 Intercalated Games.[1]

Medal Name Sport Event
  Gold Verner Weckman Wrestling Men's Greco-Roman light heavyweight
  Silver Yrjö Saarela Wrestling Men's Greco-Roman light heavyweight
  Bronze Eino Forsström
Otto Granström
Johan Kemp
Iivari Kyykoski
Heikki Lehmusto
John Lindroth
Yrjö Linko
Edvard Linna
Matti Markkanen
Kalle Mikkolainen
Veli Nieminen
Kalle Kustaa Paasia
Arvi Pohjanpää
Aarne Pohjonen
Eino Railio
Ale Riipinen
Arno Saarinen
Einar Sahlstein
Aarne Salovaara
Torsten Sandelin
Elis Sipilä
Viktor Smeds
Kaarlo Soinio
Kurt Stenberg
Väinö Tiiri
Magnus Wegelius
Gymnastics Men's team
  Bronze Verner Järvinen Athletics Men's Greek discus throw
  Bronze Arvo Linden Wrestling Men's Greco-Roman lightweight

TeamEdit

Competitors from Finland per sport
Sport Men
Athletics 15
Diving 2
Gymnastics 31
Shooting 9
Swimming 3
Wrestling 4
Total 62

Aarne Salovaara and Johan Kemp competed in two sports, among 46 athletes in the games who competed in multiple sports.[2]

No women competed from Finland. However, Valborg Florström performed in a diving exhibition, which made her the first Finnish woman in the Olympics.[3]

Including non-competitors, the Finnish team had 73 athletes and 6 officials. Chef de Mission was Reinhold Felix von Willebrand.[4] The Finnish Comité D'Honneur was Axel Fredrik Londen, Gösta Wasenius and Fred Hackman.[5]

PreparationsEdit

At the time, Grand Duchy of Finland was not an independent country, but an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. However, Finns were qualified to take part independently as a sporting nation, which was a category recently devised by Pierre de Coubertin, in an International Olympic Committee meeting in May 1907. Formal Finnish preparations for the 1908 Games had already began by then. In December, the Finnish Olympic Committee was established, which budgeted 48,000 Finnish markkas (equal to about 200,000 euros in 2018[6]) for a team of 80 to be sent. Half of it was applied from the Senate of Finland, who eventually granted only 8,000 markkas (30,000 €[6]). By June 1908, a further 22,000 markkas (90,000 €[6]) had been raised by various means.[7]

The Finnish Olympic team was mostly selected by trials arranged in the spring of 1908. A few had to be replaced, when gymnastics teachers were defined as professionals.[8]

Most of the Finnish team departed Helsinki aboard steamer Polaris on 7 July 1908. The shooting team had departed on 1 July, and wrestler Verner Weckman travelled independently from Berlin.[8]

Opening ceremony controversiesEdit

Polaris arrived in Hull on 13 July, the day of the opening ceremony, late due to a machine breakdown. A train took them to London, where they went directly from the station to the stadium. The hosts penalized the Finnish tardiness by having them enter the stadium last in the Parade of Nations, instead of their alphabetical position.[9]

A further problem was caused by their flag. There was no official flag of Finland at the time, but they had brought three options, one of which represented the coat of arms of Finland, the other two bearing the texts "Finlandia" and "Suomi-Finland". However, none of them was allowed, and the flag bearer Bruno Zilliacus carried a mere cardboard text plaque "Finland" that was borrowed from their dressing room door.[9]

Contemporary assessmentEdit

The popular opinion in Finland of the overall athletic success of their Olympic team was meager, considering its numbers.[9]

Finnish sports leaders judged the Olympic participation to have been merely an expensive excursion, and pointed out two principal problems. First was an undisciplined and immoral tourist mindset among the team, which manifested as partying, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Second was a poor organization for the Games, which included a belated preparation only months in advance; minimal equipment for the team, such as bringing only one javelin; and having no professional coaching.[10]

AthleticsEdit

Finland's best result was Verner Järvinen's bronze medal in the Greek-style discus throw. The athletics team generally performed up to expectations. Only javelin throw was considered a let down.[11]

Unless otherwise specified, results are lifted from:

  • Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian (2001). The 1908 Olympic Games: Results for All Competitors in All Events, With Commentary. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States: McFarland. pp. 44–100. ISBN 978-0-7864-0598-5.

Track and road eventsEdit

Athlete Event Heat Semifinal Final
Time Rank Time Rank Time Rank
Kalle Nieminen Men's marathon 3:09:50.8 10
Lauri Pihkala Men's 400 metres Did not start[12] Did not advance
Uuno Railo[Track 1] Men's 100 metres Did not start[14] Did not advance
Men's 200 metres Did not start[15] Did not advance
Men's 400 metres Did not start[16] Did not advance
Ragnar Stenberg Men's 100 metres unknown 5th in heat Did not advance
Men's 200 metres unknown 3rd in heat[Track 2] Did not advance
Men's 400 metres Did not start[18] Did not advance
Men's 800 metres Did not start[19] Did not advance
Men's 110 metres hurdles Did not start[20] Did not advance
Men's 400 metres hurdles Did not start[21] Did not advance
Fredrik Svanström Men's 800 metres Did not finish[Track 3] Did not advance
Men's 1500 metres 4:25.2 3rd in heat Did not advance
unknown Men's medley relay Did not start[23] Did not advance

Notes:

  1. ^ Could not compete due to a muscle strain.[13]
  2. ^ Official records say he finished his heat, but Finnish sources say he did not finish due to muscle strain[17]
  3. ^ Official records say he did not finish, but Finnish records say he placed 5th in heat,[17] with time 2:04.6[22]

Field eventsEdit

Athlete Event Qualification Final
Result Rank Result Rank
Juho Halme Men's triple jump unknown 18–20[Field 1] Did not advance
Men's shot put unknown 9–25 Did not advance
Men's javelin throw 44.96[Field 2] 6 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw 39.88 9 Did not advance
Men's discus throw Did not start[26] Did not advance
Evert Jakobsson Men's javelin throw unknown 8–16 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw unknown 10–33 Did not advance
Men's shot put Did not start[27] Did not advance
Jarl Jakobsson Men's standing long jump unknown[Field 3] 8–25 Did not advance
Men's javelin throw unknown 8–16 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw unknown 10–33 Did not advance
Shot put Did not start[30] Did not advance
Verner Järvinen Men's shot put unknown 9–25 Did not advance
Men's discus throw 39.43 4 Did not advance
Men's Greek discus throw 36.49 3 36.49  
Men's freestyle javelin throw unknown 10–33 Did not advance
Johan Kemp Men's freestyle javelin throw unknown 10–33 Did not advance
Elmer Niklander Men's shot put unknown[Field 4] 9–25 Did not advance
Men's discus throw unknown[Field 5] 12–42 Did not advance
Men's Greek discus throw 32.46 9 Did not advance
Armas Pesonen Men's javelin throw 45.17 5 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw 46.04 6 Did not advance
Long jump Did not start[32] Did not advance
Lauri Pihkala Men's high jump 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) 16 Did not advance
Men's discus throw unknown 12–42 Did not advance
Men's shot put Did not start[33] Did not advance
Uuno Railo[Field 6] Men's triple jump Did not start[34] Did not advance
Aarne Salovaara Men's discus throw unknown 12–42 Did not advance
Men's javelin throw 45.89 4 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw unknown 10–33 Did not advance
Jalmari Sauli Men's shot put 12.58 7 Did not advance
Men's discus throw unknown 12–42 Did not advance
Men's javelin throw unknown 7 Did not advance
Men's freestyle javelin throw 43.30 8 Did not advance
Men's Greek discus throw Did not start[35] Did not advance
Lauri Wilskman Men's high jump Did not start[Field 7] Did not advance
Men's discus throw unknown 12–42 Did not advance
Shot put Did not start[36] Did not advance
Greek discus throw Did not start[37] Did not advance
Bruno Zilliacus Men's shot put unknown 9–25 Did not advance

Notes:

  1. ^ From The Sportsman and The People. Many sources do not list him competing in this event.[24]
  2. ^ From New York Herald. His mark was not officially recorded.[25]
  3. ^ Two Finnish newspaper correspondents reported his result as 310, which would place him 8th.[28][29]
  4. ^ Result was circa 11 metres.[31]
  5. ^ Result was circa 36 metres.[31]
  6. ^ Could not compete due to a muscle strain.[13]
  7. ^ His qualification result was 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm). However, due to changing conditions, his qualification pool was declared void and to be re-jumped. He did not start the re-jump.

DivingEdit

 
Oskar Wetzell in the diving competition

The Finnish divers had low expectations, as they had previously competed in plain jumps only, and their scores suffered from low degrees of difficulty.[38] Valborg Florström performed a diving exhibition with Ebba Gisico of Sweden, which was the first appearance of women in the Olympic pool.[39]

Results are lifted from:

Athlete Event Round One Semi-finals Final
Points Rank Points Rank Points Rank
Toivo Aro Men's 10 metre platform 69.50 2nd in pool 62.70 3rd in pool Did not advance
Waldemar Ullström Men's 10 metre platform Did not start[40] Did not advance
Oskar Wetzell Men's 3 metre springboard 70.83 2nd in pool 70.10 6th in pool Did not advance
Men's 10 metre platform 69.70 4th in pool Did not advance

GymnasticsEdit

 
Finland at the team event

Three groups of gymnasts travelled to the Games from Finland. The 26-man main group took part in the team event and 5 men in the individual artistic event. Viipurin Reipas also sent an exhibition team. The Finnish overall result was considered satisfactory.[41]

Gymnast Event Points Rank
Riku Korhonen Men's artistic individual all-around 143.50 75[42]
Eetu Kosonen Men's artistic individual all-around 120.00 88[42]
Iivari Partanen Men's artistic individual all-around 121.00 85[42]
Jaska Saarivuori Men's artistic individual all-around 132.00 81[42]
David Teivonen Men's artistic individual all-around 117.50 91[42]
Eino Forsström
Otto Granström
Johan Kemp
Iivari Kyykoski
Heikki Lehmusto
John Lindroth
Yrjö Linko
Edvard Linna
Matti Markkanen
Kalle Mikkolainen
Veli Nieminen
Kalle Kustaa Paasia
Arvi Pohjanpää
Aarne Pohjonen
Eino Railio
Ale Riipinen
Arno Saarinen
Einar Sahlstein
Aarne Salovaara
Torsten Sandelin
Elis Sipilä
Viktor Smeds
Kaarlo Soinio
Kurt Stenberg
Väinö Tiiri
Magnus Wegelius
Men's team 405  [43]

ShootingEdit

RifleEdit

 
Finland's Olympic rifle shooters

The Finnish shooting team performed poorly against expectations and returned in disgrace. The captain of the shooting team, Axel Fredrik Londen, explained in an article that the Finnish shooters could only afford an inferior number of practice shots and inferior gun powder. There also was an import ban on modern bullets and rifles in Finland.[44] Lauri Kolho blamed the fiasco on antiquated gun powder and bullets further impaired by a strong crosswind.[45]

Results are lifted from:

Shooter Event Score Rank
Heikki Hallamaa Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 576 46
Heikki Huttunen Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 686 38
Lauri Kolho Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 672 39
Voitto Kolho Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 788 17
Gustaf Nyman Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 615 44
Frans Nässling Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 733 30
Emil Nässling Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 657 41
Karl Reilin Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 584 45
Huvi Tuiskunen Men's 300 metre free rifle, three positions 697 37
Heikki Huttunen
Voitto Kolho
Gustaf Nyman
Emil Nässling
Frans Nässling
Huvi Tuiskunen
Men's 300 metre free rifle, team 3,962 8

TrapEdit

Shooter Event 1st stage 2nd stage 3rd stage Total Rank
Karl Fazer Men's trap Did not start
Robert Huber Men's trap Did not start
Axel Fredrik Londen Men's trap Eliminated Did not advance unknown 29–61

Sources differ on the Finnish participation in the trap event:

  • In the Official Report of the 1908 Olympics (published in 1909), the three Finns are listed among 61 entrants to the trap event. It then details the results for 28 shooters that reached the second stage, implying the Finns were eliminated in the first stage.[46]
  • Bill Mallon and Ian Buchanan in modern research of the 1908 Olympics (2000) argue that out of the 61 entrants, only about 31 started, all of whom were allowed to advance to the second stage, and the Finns never started the event.[47]
  • In a contemporary article (1908), Londen describes himself being at the Games in team leader's form, the Finnish shooters entering rifle events only and never mentions Huber or Fazer.[48]
  • The centennial history of the Finnish Olympic Committee (2007) lists Londen as a competitor who was eliminated in the first round without Fazer and Huber.[49]
  • The centennial history of the Finnish Shooting Sport Federation (2019) considers Fazer and Huber to not have started the event and Londen eliminated in the first round.[50]

SwimmingEdit

The Finnish swimmers had low expectations and took the games as an excursion. They skipped the freestyle events and competed for the first time in backstroke. Also, they were used to a 25 metre track, but the Olympic pool was 100 metres long, which hindered them in their main event, the breaststroke.[51]

Unless otherwise specified, results are lifted from:

Athlete Event Heat Semifinal Final
Time Rank Time Rank Time Rank
Herman Cederberg Men's 100 metre backstroke Did not start[52] Did not advance
Men's 200 metre breaststroke unknown 4th–5th in heat Did not advance
Men's 1500 metre freestyle Did not start[53] Did not advance
John Henriksson Men's 100 metre backstroke unknown 3rd in heat Did not advance
Men's 200 metre breaststroke unknown 3rd in heat Did not advance
Hugo Jonsson Men's 100 metre backstroke unknown 3rd in heat Did not advance
Men's 200 metre breaststroke Did not finish Did not advance

WrestlingEdit

 
Weckman and Saarela in the finals

Results are lifted from:

Athlete Event Round of 32 Round of 16 Quarterfinal Semifinal Final / Bronze Rank
Opposition
Result
Opposition
Result
Opposition
Result
Opposition
Result
Opposition
Result (best out of three)
Jussi Kivimäki Men's Greco-Roman light heavyweight Bye   Jacob van Westrop (NED)
L/p
Did not advance 9
Arvo Lindén Men's Greco-Roman lightweight   Lucien Hansen (BEL)
W/f
  Carl Carlsen (DEN)
W/f
  Anders Møller (DEN)
W/f
  Nikolay Orlov (RU1)
L/p
  Gunnar Persson (SWE)
2–0 W (W/f, W/f)
 
Yrjö Saarela Men's Greco-Roman light heavyweight   Henri Nielsen (DEN)
W/f
  Edward Nixson (GBR)
W/f
  Marcel Dubois (BEL)
W/f
  Carl Jensen (DEN)
W/f
  Verner Weckman (FIN)
2–1 L (W/f, L/f, L/f)
 
Verner Weckman Men's Greco-Roman light heavyweight Bye   William West (GBR)
W/f
  Fritz Larsson (SWE)
W/f
  Hugó Payr (HUN)
W/f
  Yrjö Saarela (FIN)
2–1 W (L/f, W/f, W/f)
 

Ledend: W = win, L = loss, /f = by fall, /p by points

According to rumours, Weckman bribed Saarela to throw the light heavyweight final.[54] Modern sportswriters Arto Teronen and Jouko Vuolle consider that there is plenty of circumstantial evidence in favour.[55]

SourcesEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian (2001). The 1908 Olympic Games: Results for All Competitors in All Events, With Commentary. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States: McFarland. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7864-0598-5.
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