Wäinö Aaltonen

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Competed in Olympic Games (non-medal events)
Full nameWäinö Valdemar•Aaltonen
Used nameWäinö•Aaltonen
Other namesVäinö Valdemar Aaltonen
Born8 March 1894 in Marttila, Varsinais-Suomi (FIN)
Died30 May 1966 in Helsinki, Uusimaa (FIN)
NOC Finland


Wäinö Valdemar Aaltonen is regarded as one of Finland’s leading sculptors. He studied painting in Turku, while he was largely self-taught as a sculptor. He became deaf at the age of four and lived in Helsinki from 1917. He is mostly known for his monuments and portrait busts, but continued to produce oil paintings. Aaltonen became well-known for his sculpture of long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi, placed outside of the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, which he created in 1924, and also for the portrait of the composer Jean Sibelius. Among his other well-known monuments are the sculptures of Field Marshal and later President Gustaf Mannerheim from 1953, composer and maestro Toivo Kuula, and the famous writer Aleksis Kivi.

In 1964, the City Council of Turku planned to establish a museum dedicated to Wäinö Aaltonen, and Aaltonen himself played an active part in the planning. He also released his basic collection to the museum, which was officially opened in 1967, the year after his death. Aaltonen was awarded numerous prizes and was a member of many associations and academies at home and abroad. In France he was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor.

The Javelin Thrower (Keihäänheittäjä) is said to have been a stopgap in 1948, as Finland, as host of the 1952 Games, wanted to submit at least one work in the sculpturing section. It was a bronze statue measuring 95 x 135 cm. In 1952, Aaltonen was then represented in the art exhibition with the group Tying of Friendship (Ystävyys solmitaan) made of plaster. This was commissioned by the city of Turku as a symbol and gratitude for the support provided by the city of Göteburg during World War II. The bronze statues were made in 1948 and unveiled in 1955. Today, the original stands on the edge of Renströmspark in Göteburg’s university district and a duplicate in front of the Concert Hall in Turku symbolizing the city partnership with Göteburg. The statue stands 2.95 m tall, the base of red granite another 1.70 m.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Art Competitions FIN Wäinö Aaltonen
Sculpturing, Statues, Open (Olympic) AC
1952 Summer Olympics Art Competitions FIN Wäinö Aaltonen
Sculpturing, Open (Olympic (non-medal)) AC