Финляндия / Finland

Finland celebrated a century of Olympic participation at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Shooter Satu MAKELA-NUMMELA won their only gold in the women's trap. Finland first competed at an Olympic Games in London in 1908.

Finland's first Olympic champion was Greco-Roman wrestler Verner WECKMAN and the sport yielded many Finnish champions, particularly in the early editions of the Olympic Games.

However, athletics is the dominant Olympic sport in Finland and many of the most famous names in Olympic competiton have come from Finland.

The first generation of great Finnish track stars included Hannes KOHLEMAINEN, who won the 5,000m, 10,000m and cross country gold at the Stockholm 1912 Games. He also won the Olympic marathon in 1920.

 Ville RITOLA won 3000m steeplechase and 10000m gold and 3000m team gold in Antwerp in 1924 and added the 5,000m and cross country team gold in Amsterdam in 1928.

 The greatest of them all was Paavo NURMI, winner of nine gold medals. His individual titles came at 10,000m in 1920 and 1928; cross country in 1920 and 1924; 1500m and 5,000m in 1924, both in Olympic record times. He added cross country team titles in 1920 and 1924 and gold in the men's team race in 1924.

Lasse VIREN did the 5,000m and 10,000m double at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games and repeated the feat at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. The javelin throw has also held a special place in Finnish Olympic lore.

Juulius SARISTO won the two-handed throw at the Stockholm 1912 Games and Jonni MYRRA won gold medals in 1920 and 1924. Matti JARVINEN won in Los Angeles in 1932, Tapio RAUTAVAARA in London in 1948, Pauli NEVARA in Tokyo in 1964 and Arto HARKONEN in Los Angeles in 1984.

Heli RANTANEN won the women's javelin in Atlanta in 1996. In rowing, Petti KARPINEN won four consecutive gold medals in the single sculls and other gold medals have come in canoeing and sailing. IOC member Peter TALLBERG competed in five Olympic Games. His family's involvement in Olympic Games sailing stretches back a century to the Stockholm 1912 Games.

The last time the Olympic Games were held in London in 1948, Finland dominated the gymnastics, winning six gold medals. Finland's capital Helsinki hosted the 1952 Olympic Games.

Paavo NURMI and Hannes KOHLEMAINEN were popular choices to light the cauldrons in the stadium, but strangely not one of Finland's gold medals at their home Olympic Games came in track and field.