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Elias Katz

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 2
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameElias•Katz
Used nameElias•Katz
Born22 June 1901 in Turku (FIN)
Died26 December 1947 in near Tsrifimi Camp (PLE)
Measurements175 cm / 59 kg
AffiliationsUrheiluseura Makkabi, Helsinki (FIN)
NOC Finland


Elias Katz played football with Turun Makkabé, before moving to Helsinki at the start of 1920s, where he took up running competitively. Katz first competed at the Finnish championships in 1922, finishing fourth in the 3,000 metre steeplechase, and soon rose to be the world’s leading steeplechaser in the mid-1920s. Katz won steeplechase Olympic silver in 1924, behind legendary Ville Ritola and then joined with him and Paavo Nurmi to win gold in the 3,000 m team race. Katz was Finnish steeplechase champion in 1923-24 and 1926; 5,000 m champion in 1924; and 4x1,500 m relay champion in 1926. In 1926, he ran on two world record setting relay teams, when he was a member of the Finnish 4x1,500 m relay team that ran 16:26.2 in July 1926 and then lowered the mark to 16:11.4 later that year.

In 1925, Bar Kochba of Berlin, the first Jewish national sports club in Central Europe, founded in 1898, invited Katz to represent the club. He did, but then returned to his native Finland in 1927 to prepare for the 1928 Olympic Games; however, a severe foot injury ended his chances of competing in Amsterdam and Katz returned to Germany and Bar Kochba as a coach. In 1933 Katz emigrated to Palestine and was selected to coach the Israeli Olympic track team for the 1948 Games in London. Neither he nor the Israeli team ever made it to England, as Israel was not admitted into the Olympic family until 1952, and Katz was murdered by Arab terrorists in December 1947, while working as a film projectionist at a British Army camp near Gaza.

Personal Bests: 3,000 – 8:35.8 (1926); 3,000S – 9:34.5 (1926).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1924 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Elias Katz
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
3,000 metres, Team, Men (Olympic) Finland 1 Gold

Special Notes


Date of death often given as 24 December; this is confirmed by a family member.