Juha Väätäinen

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Juha Väätäinen
Juha Väätäinen.jpg
Juha Väätäinen in 2011.
Personal information
Birth name Juha Väätäinen
Full name Toivo Juha Väätäinen
Nickname(s) Juha the Cruel
Julma-Juha in Finnish
Nationality Finnish
Born (1941-07-12) 12 July 1941 (age 74)
Oulu, Finland
Residence Helsinki, Finland
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 60 kg (130 lb; 9.4 st)
Website www.juhavaatainen.info
Country  Finland
Sport Running
Event(s) Long-distance
Club Haapaveden Urheilijat 1958-67
Oulun NMKY:n Urheilijat 1968-72
Coached by Paavo Meskus 1963-68
Retired 1972
Achievements and titles
Regional finals 1971: 5000 m 1st
1971: 10,000 m 1st
Olympic finals 1972: 5000 m 13th
Highest world ranking 5000 m: 1st (1971)
10,000 m: 1st (1971)
Personal best(s) 200 m: 22.1 (1967)
400 m: 48.9 (1967)
800 m: 1:48.4 (1967)
1500 m: 3:43.7 (1968)
Mile: 4:04.6 (1966)
3000 m: 7:53.4 (1972)
2 Miles: 8:33.0 (1971)
5000 m: 13:28.4 (1972)
10,000 m: 27:52.78 (1971)

Juha Väätäinen (born 12 July 1941)[1][2][3][4] is a Finnish former athlete. He is the winner of the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter gold medals at the 1971 European Championships held in Helsinki. He was the eldest of the successful Finnish runners Lasse Virén, Pekka Vasala, Tapio Kantanen, Martti Vainio, and Kaarlo Maaninka who came into the limelight in the 1970s. He served as a Member of the Finnish Parliament for Helsinki, representing the Finns Party between 2011 and 2015.

Athletics career[edit]

Early career 1960-68[edit]

Väätäinen started his running career as a sprinter. He won his first Junior Finnish Championship in 400 metres hurdles in 1960.[2] In 1965-1967 his main event was 800 metres, in which he won Nordic Championship in 1965, beating, for example, young Anders Gärderud.[5]

Väätäinen was coached by Paavo Meskus from 1963 until Meskus death in 1968. However, Väätäinen was pretty independent and planned his training mostly by himself.[6] He was also interested about the altitude training as early as in the winter of 1966-67 when he spent seven months in Alamosa as a student.[7]

In the summer of 1968 Väätäinen trained five weeks in Rhodes and on his return to Finland he ran 3000 metres in Helsinki in 8:01.0, improving his personal best by 52 seconds. The competition was won by 3000 metres steeplechase World record holder Jouko Kuha with the new Finnish record 7:56.6. After the 1968 season Väätäinen decided to focus on long-distance running.[1][4]

Move to long-distances 1969-70[edit]

In 1969 Väätäinen practiced altitude training for the second time in Cervinia.[2] He ran 10,000 metres in 28:53.0 and 5000 metres in 13:50.0 and was selected to the European Championships in Athens. However, he was not able to compete because of the infection he received from the drug injection due to his weak blood test results.[8][9]

In December 1969 Väätäinen stayed in Frankfurt on his trip to São Paulo. His foot slipped on the snowy road and Achilles tendon was injured. Anyway, he finished Saint Silvester Road Race being 26th. As his original intention was to continue training in Brazil after the race, he decided to stay in Penedo, Itatiaia. Because of the injury, his training was reduced until March 1970. However, in April 1970 he ran 1100 km.[8]

In 1970 Väätäinen improved his personal bests: 5000 metres in 13:43.2 and 10,000 metres in 28:19.6. After the season, the injured Achilles tendon was operated.[10]

European Championships in Helsinki 1971[edit]

In the winter of 1970-71 Väätäinen trained again in Brazil. He was 10th at the Saint Silvester Road Race. In Penedo he ran over 1000 km per month. In the late March he flew to Mexico City for altitude training. In Mexico he ran 350 km per week at his height.[8] In May he continued to California where he improved his 2-mile Finnish record to 8:33.0. After his return to Europe, Väätäinen continued altitude training in Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via.[10]

After his return to Finland Väätäinen set new Finnish records in 3000 metres (7:56.4) on 20 July in Helsinki; and in 10,000 metres (28:12.8) at the Finnish Championships on 23 July in Oulu.[4]

The European Championships 10,000 meters final was held on 10 August. The race is regarded by many as one of the greatest distance races of all time. In front of a highly excited Finnish crowd Väätäinen was in a group of six runners at the final bell following David Bedford, who had led from the start. Väätäinen and Jürgen Haase both kicked past Bedford in a thrilling last lap "burn-up" bringing the crowd to its feet as they battled neck and neck to the line with Väätainen just edging out Haase in the new Finnish record time 27:52.78. Väätäinen ran last 400 metres in 53.8 seconds.[4]

The 5000 metres final was held four days later. Väätäinen won this event as well, beating Jean Wadoux and Harald Norpoth in the new Finnish record 13:32.8. This race also came down to a fast last lap, with Väätäinen's blazing the last 400 meters in 53.0 seconds.[4]

In the Track & Field News annual world ranking Väätäinen was ranked first both at 5000 and 10,000 metres.

Olympics 1972[edit]

In winter of 1971-72 Väätäinen trained at high altitude in Nairobi. In summer 1972 he suffered from Sciatica. At the Olympics in Munich he qualified for the 5000 meters final, but disappointed with a 13th-place finish. However, only three days later in Rome Väätäinen improved his personal best at 5000 metres to 13:28.4. On the following day he ran 13:35.4 in Helsinki, placing third in the same race that Lasse Virén set a new World record 13:16.4. Väätäinen ended his athletics career after the season, attempting to come back in 1974 but unsuccessfully.[4]

Professional career[edit]

By his education Väätäinen is a primary school teacher. However, he has not worked in the profession after the 1960s. During the years, Väätäinen has worked as a coach, being especially successful in the field racewalking. He has coached, for example, Reima Salonen and Sari Essayah. Väätäinen served as a head coach of long-distance runners at the Finnish Athletics Association in 1988-90. In the 2000s Väätäinen has worked as a painter.[1][3] In 2007 he was a candidate at the Finnish parliamentary election but was not elected. In 2011 he ran again and this time was elected as a candidate of the Finns Party. He did not seek re-election in 2015.


  1. ^ a b c Salo, Urho (1993). Kilpakenttien sankarit 3. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Tammi. pp. 116–119. ISBN 951-30-8902-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 192–194. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 
  3. ^ a b "Henkilökuva (Personal profile)". Home pages of Juha Väätäinen. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hannus, Matti (1999). Kultaiset kentät, Suomen yleisurheilun vuosisata. Juva: Werner Soderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 172–180. ISBN 951-0-23703-5. 
  5. ^ Hannus, Matti (1999). Kultaiset kentät, Suomen yleisurheilun vuosisata. Juva: Werner Soderström Osakeyhtiö. pp. 106–108. ISBN 951-0-23703-5. 
  6. ^ Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 67–70. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 
  7. ^ Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 172–175. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 
  8. ^ a b c Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 87–102. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 
  9. ^ Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 181–189. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 
  10. ^ a b Väätäinen, Juha; Aalto, Eeli (1972). Kierros vielä. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä. pp. 103–113. ISBN 951-26-0171-0. 

External links[edit]