Ville Ritola

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameVilho Eino "Ville"•Ritola (Koukkari-)
Used nameVille•Ritola
Nick/petnamesWilliam, Peräseinäjoen susi, Suomalainen pystykorva
Born18 January 1896 in Peräseinäjoki, Seinäjoki, Etelä-Pohjanmaa (FIN)
Died24 April 1982 in Helsinki, Uusimaa (FIN)
Measurements175 cm / 66 kg
AffiliationsTampereen Pyrintö/Helsingin Toverit
NOC Finland
Medals OG
Gold 5
Silver 3
Bronze 0
Total 8


Ville Ritola was an outstanding distance runner who rivaled his legendary countryman, Paavo Nurmi. At the 1924 Olympic Games, Ritola won the steeplechase in his first attempt at the race and improved his own 10,000 metre world record to win that event. He also won two further gold medals in the 3,000 metre team event and the team cross-country event. Ritola and Nurmi met on the track for the first time at these Olympics with Nurmi claiming the honors by winning the 5,000 metres and defeating Ritola in the cross-country and 3,000 metres. At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the match-up was in the 5,000 metres with Ritola defeating Nurmi to win the gold medal. The 14th of 20 children, Ritola left home in 1913 to emigrate to the United States and eventually won 14 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles, returning home in the Olympic years. He never competed in the Finnish national championships.

Personal Bests: 3000 – 8:31.8i (1923); 5000 – 14:23.2i (1925); 10000 – 30:19.4e (1928); 3000S – 9:33.6 (1924).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1924 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Ville Ritola
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
3,000 metres, Team, Men (Olympic) Finland 1 Gold
Cross-Country, Individual, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
Cross-Country, Team, Men (Olympic) Finland 1 Gold
1928 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Ville Ritola
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 2 Silver
3,000 metres Steeplechase, Men (Olympic) AC

Special Notes