Volmari Iso-Hollo

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameVolmari Fritijof•Iso-Hollo (Hollo-)
Used nameVolmari•Iso-Hollo
Nick/petnamesIso, Vomma, Hollolan raju, Iron Man
Born5 January 1907 in Ylöjärvi, Pirkanmaa (FIN)
Died23 June 1969 in Heinola, Päijät-Häme (FIN)
Measurements176 cm / 64 kg
AffiliationsHT Helsinki, Helsinki (FIN) / Keravan Urheilijat, Kerava (FIN)
NOC Finland
Medals OG
Gold 2
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 4


As a youth, Volmari Iso-Hollo did skiing, gymnastics and boxing, taking up running only after he joined the Army. He was successful in a wide range of events, running all distances between 400 metres and the marathon. Iso-Hollo won his first international races in 1928, when he won both the 3,000 and 5,000 m at the 1928 Workers’ Olympiad. He won his first Olympic gold medal in the steeplechase at the 1932 Summer Olympics. He was denied a chance at the world record because the officials lost count of the number of laps, as the official lap-counter was looking the other way, watching the decathlon pole vault. When Iso-Hollo went to his last lap, the official failed to ring the bell, and the entire field kept on running and so the finishing distance was 3,460 m. If the distance were 3,000 m, Iso-Hollo would likely have broken the world record. He also won silver in the 10K in Los Angeles. In 1933, Iso-Hollo did break the 3,000 metre steeplechase world record, running 9:09.4 in Lahti and went to the 1936 Summer Olympics as the favorite. At Berlin, Iso-Hollo won the steeplechase by three seconds, finishing in the world record time of 9:03.8. Iso-Hollo added a bronze in the 10K to complete a set of Olympic medals. Iso-Hollo also won six Finnish titles – in 5,000 metres in 1933, the steeplechase in 1936, in cross-country in 1932 and 1936 and in team cross-country in 1930 and 1933. After the 1936 Olympics, Iso-Hollo fell ill with rheumatism, but competed until 1945.

Iso-Hollo’s date of birth has frequently been seen as 1 May 1907 (including by us, previously), but that is an error of the two date systems. In May 2017, this was pointed out by Vesa Tikander of the Finnish Sports Museum, who wrote, “This is confirmed by the inscription on Iso-Hollo’s gravestone: https://billiongraves.com/grave/Volmari-Iso-Hollo/16701460#/, his birth certificate, press stories of his 50th and 60th birthdays and a biography written by his daughter. The late Markku Siukonen, Finnish Olympic historian, also always maintained the January 5 birthdate in his authoritative works on Finnish Olympic history. The incorrect 1 May date seems to have first appeared in a popular Finnish sports reference book in the 1940’s (Urheilun pikkujättiläinen).”

Personal Bests: 10000 – 30:12.6 (1932); 3000S – 9:03.8 (1936).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1932 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Volmari Iso-Hollo
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1936 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Volmari Iso-Hollo
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 3 Bronze
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold