Lauri Lehtinen

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Lauri Lehtinen
Medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for  Finland
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1932 Los Angeles 5000 metres
Silver medal – second place 1936 Berlin 5000 metres
For the Finnish sports sailor, see Lauri Lehtinen (sailor).

Lauri Aleksanteri Lehtinen (10 August 1908 – 4 December 1973) was a Finnish athlete, winner of a controversial 5000 m at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Born in Porvoo, Finland, Lauri Lehtinen ran a new world record in 5000 m (14:17.0) just a month prior to the Olympics, thus becoming a main favourite to the Olympic 5000 m Champion title.

In the final, the Finns Lehtinen and Lauri Virtanen led early. They managed to shake off all other competitors except Ralph Hill from the United States. Soon the race turned into a battle between Lehtinen and Hill. On the last lap, Hill tried to overtake Lehtinen. Seeing this, the Finn blocked his way, zig-zagging from one lane to the other to the great exasperation of the crowd. At the finish, Lehtinen crossed first a mere 50 centimetres ahead. Although this was a common tactic in Europe, the American audience was unaccustomed to it, so they booed. Hill declined to file a protest. They both recorded an identical time of 14:30.0. This was the only Olympic race longer than 200 metres in which the top two finishers recorded identical times.

At the 1936 Summer Olympics, Lehtinen couldn't defend his title, finishing second after fellow countryman Gunnar Höckert.

In 1940, Lehtinen donated his Los Angeles gold medal to a soldier who had served with distinction on the Karelian Isthmus. Lehtinen's gesture was a mark of respect for Höckert, who was killed in action on the Isthmus.

In Kerkkoo village in Porvoo, there is a road named after him, "Lauri Lehtisen Tie."


Preceded by
Finland Paavo Nurmi
Men's 5000 m World Record Holder
19 June 1932 – 16 June 1939
Succeeded by
Finland Taisto Mäki