Pekka Vasala

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Pekka Vasala
Medal record
Men’s Athletics
Competitor for  Finland
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1972 Munich 1500 metres

Pekka Antero Vasala (born April 17, 1948 in Riihimäki) is a former middle-distance athlete who won an Olympic gold medal in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City he failed to advance from the first round of heats in the 1500 m.

His later success is partly attributed to his legendary hill training of which he said "[it] is suicidal for other runners to copy my hill sessions without adequate background".

In Munich he won the 1500 m race in a time of 3 minutes 36.3 seconds, ahead of the legendary Kip Keino and Rod Dixon. This marked a memorable day for Finnish athletics because his countryman Lasse Virén had won the 5,000 m earlier in the day, in addition to winning the 10,000m in world record time earlier in the games. With a medal in every track event from 1500 to 10,000 meters, three gold and one bronze (Tapio Kantanen in the 3000 meter steeplechase) Finnish athletes achieved a level of success not seen since the era of the "Flying Finns" (1912-1936).

His nephew, Samuli Vasala, also an athlete, won the 2003 Nordic Cross Country Championships. Vasala is the son-in-law of Martti Matilainen.


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Preceded by
West Germany Walter Adams
European Record Holder Men's 800m
20 August 1972 - 26 June 1973
Succeeded by
Italy Marcello Fiasconaro