This is a huge story for your editor. One of the most treasured keepsakes I have, now in my son’s possession, is a postcard from my Grandfather, Earl Robertson, who died in 1988. A colorful character, if there ever was one, Grandpa and I had a tumultuous relationship. Near the end of his life, we found a compromise. He wrote me a postcard about Paavo Nurmi, who had seen race as a kid (he was born in 1911). It was in a note to me about my son Adams’ birth. 

I am so looking forward to seeing these medals. Paavo Nurmi raced 64-plus times in the US in 1925. Generations of Americans have heard the stories, generation after generation, of seeing the Flying Finn.

Congrats to my friend Chris Turner at WA Heritage for staging this coup. I believe I met Chris in 1995 at Goteborg. The guy knows track like no one else. His family was in the newspaper business, and he has a wonderful obsession with Finnish athletics, hence his Twitter handle, @nurmi1924. 

And thanks to Mike Rowbottom for his wonderful story. 

Nurmi’s five gold medals from the Paris 2024 Olympics to be on show during this summer’s Games in the French capital

The five gold medals won by Finland’s Paavo Nurmi at the 1924 Paris Olympics – the most gained at a single Games by any track and field athlete – will return to the French capital a century later as part of a larger exhibition.

The first victory for the then 27-year-old “Flying Finn” came in the 1500m on July 10. Less than an hour later, he had another Olympic gold to add to his collection after winning the 5,000m.

Two days later, Nurmi won the individual cross country title in a race run in 45C heat. A total of 38 runners from 10 nations started; only 15 finished. Nurmi also picked up a team gold with silver medallists Ville Ritola and Heikki Liimateinen.

The next day, Nurmi, Ritola, and Sameli Tala won gold in the 3,000-meter team race.

Paavo Nurmi, photo from Wikipedia

Thanks to the Nurmi family’s kind generosity, at Chris Turner’s suggestion at the Museum Of World Athletics (MOWA), Nurmi’s set of five 1924 gold medals will go on display in the prestigious Museum of the Monnaie de Paris, on the left bank of the Seine in the heart of the French capital.

Nurmi’s Paris golds form part of a larger exhibition of Olympic medals entitled D’or, d’argent, de bronze. Une histoire de la médaille Olympique, organised by the museum of the French mint to mark the Paris 2024 Games.

The exhibition opens for a media preview on March 26 and will be open to the public from March 27 to September 22.

Paavo Nurmi, photo by Wikipedia

Mika Nurmi, Paavo’s grandson, and Finland’s four-time Olympic champion Lasse Viren will be honored guests at the press preview and public opening ceremony.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “World Athletics is delighted that the family of Paavo Nurmi, the Paavo Nurmi Games, the City of Turku, and the museum of the Monnaie de Paris have partnered with our own Museum of World Athletics to return one of the most famous sets of Olympic medals to the French capital for the first time since they were won there a century ago.

“During the year of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, we are celebrating the outstanding achievements of The Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi, who in 1924 won a still unsurpassed haul of five Olympic athletics gold medals in a single edition of the Games.

Magazine cover of the era featuring Paavo Nurmi

“As famous as the Hollywood stars of his day and lauded by US presidents, Nurmi was the first truly global sports star. Nurmi ended his career with nine golds, three Olympic silver medals, and 22 ratified world records, but his achievements in Paris 1924, including an outrageous 1500m and 5000m double won with only an hour rest between the two finals, marked the zenith of his career.

“When visiting Paris for this summer’s Olympic Games, I look forward to viewing this historic display of Nurmi’s golds.

“These five medals are the athletics centerpiece of an impressive six-month exhibition of Olympic medals and coins staged in the neoclassical museum of the Monnaie de Paris, the world’s oldest continuously running mint.”

Chairman and CEO of Monnaie de Paris Marc Schwartz commented: “Presenting an extraordinary set of Olympic gold medals at the Monnaie de Paris Museum is truly an honor.

“Even years later, Paavo Nurmi stands out as one of the most renowned athletes of all time.

“The celebration of his accomplishments undoubtedly positions this collection as a highlight of our exhibition: ‘Gold, Silver, Bronze. A history of the Olympic Medal’. Come to see it in Paris!”

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