Ville Ritola

Ville Ritola

Nick Name
: N/A
:18 Jan,1896
:123 years, 7 months
:Seinajoki, Western Finland, Finland
Retired On
: 1928

About Ville Ritola

Vilho "Ville" Eino Ritola  was a Finnish long-distance runner. Known as one of the "Flying Finns", he won five Olympic gold medals and three Olympic silver medals in the 1920s. He holds the record of winning most athletics medals in one Olympic games event - four golds and two silvers in Paris 1924. He has won the second biggest number of athletics Olympic gold medals in one event.

Paris Olympics 1924:

  • During 1923 American Finns started collecting funds to pay for Ville Ritola's trip to Finland, where in May 1924 he took part in the Finnish Olympic qualification competitions. In the 10,000 m qualifying race Ritola won with a world record time of 30.35.4. This was Ritola's first official world record.
  • At the 1924 Paris Olympics, he won four gold and two silver medals. He had a start on eight consecutive days to achieve this, all long-distance.
  • In his first race, the 10,000 m, in the absence of Nurmi, he won by half a lap and obliterated his own fresh world record by more than 12 seconds. Finnish officials had selected Ritola for the race as Nurmi was already running in five other distance events.Three days later, Ritola won the 3000 m steeplechase by 75 metres. The next day he finished second in the 5000 m, 0,2 seconds behind Nurmi. Ritola later earned another silver medal behind Nurmi in the individual cross-country race and gained a gold medal as a member of the Finnish cross-country team. Finally, Ritola joined with Nurmi to win the 3000 m team race. 
  • Ville Ritola's Paris 1924 triumph is historical. Until today his six medals from Paris is the biggest number of medals won by an athlete in one Olympic games event. His four gold medals put him in second place after Paavo Nurmi in the number of gold medals won by an athlete in one Olympic Games event.

Back to USA:

After the Olympics Ville Ritola had to return to the US to find employment, while his pregnant wife remained in Finland. His daughter Anja was born in November 1924. Selma joined her husband in the US with the baby in March 1925. 

In winter 1924-1925 Ville Ritola competed in United States and Canada and beat world record times on 3000 m (8.26,8), 3000 m steeplechase (9.18.6), 5000 m (14.23,2), 2 miles, 2 mile steeplechase, 3 miles and 5 miles. These were not official world records as they were run indoors.

Ville Ritola Achievements


  • A statue for Ville Ritola was prepared by sculptor Maija Nuotio in 1978 and it is placed in his homeplace Peräseinäjoki (now part of Seinäjoki). 
  • A sports hall in Peräseinäjoki was named RitolaHalli
  • At Ville Ritola's funeral in 1982 the goffin bearers included other Olympic heroes like Lasse Viren. 
  • Kunto-Ritola, annual long-distance event

Olympic Games:

  • Gold medal – first place1924 Paris10,000 m
  • Gold medal – first place1924 Paris3000 m steeplechase
  • Gold medal – first place1924 Paris3000 m team
  • Gold medal – first place1924 ParisTeam cross country
  • Silver medal – second place1924 ParisIndividual cross country
  • Silver medal – second place1924 Paris5000 m
  • Gold medal – first place1928 Amsterdam5000 m
  • Silver medal – second place1928 Amsterdam10,000 m

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