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Lasse Virén

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 4
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 4
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameLasse Artturi•Virén
Used nameLasse•Virén
Born22 July 1949 in Myrskylä (FIN)
Measurements180 cm / 59-61 kg
AffiliationsMyrskylän Myrsky, Myrskylä (FIN)
NOC Finland


Lasse Virén extended the line of great Finnish distance runners when he won the 5,000 and 10,000 metre events at two consecutive Olympics – 1972 and 1976. He also competed in the marathon at the 1976 Olympics, attempting to emulate Emil Zátopek’s 1952 distance triple, and in his first attempt at the marathon distance, finished 5th. Virén returned to compete at the 1980 Olympics, running only the 10,000, in which he also finished 5th. He had no other major successes other than at the Olympics, and was considered a master of being able to manage his training to peak at the absolute perfect moment. But his failure to perform well at other meets also led to rumors, never substantiated, that he had employed blood doping to achieve his Olympic titles. Virén set three world records in 1972, over two miles, 5,000 metres, and in winning the Olympic 10,000 gold medal. That gold medal and world record was particularly memorable for he fell midway through the race but sprang to his feet and quickly caught back up to the field. He became a national hero in his country, was elected Sportsman of the Year twice in 1972 and 1976 and later went to politics becoming a member of Finland’s parliament from 1999 to 2007.

Personal Bests: 5000 - 13:16.4 (1972); 10000 - 27:38.35 (1972); Mar - 2-13:11 (1976).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1972 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Lasse Virén
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1976 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Lasse Virén
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
Marathon, Men (Olympic) 5
1980 Summer Olympics Athletics FIN Lasse Virén
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNS
10,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 5
Marathon, Men (Olympic) AC

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1972 Summer Olympics 3 September 1972 Athletics 10,000 metres, Men Final 27:38.35 WR 1
1972 Summer Olympics 10 September 1972 Athletics 5,000 metres, Men Final 13:26.42 1

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1976 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony FIN Lasse Virén

Special Notes