Paavo Yrjölä

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Paavo Yrjölä
Yrjölä at the 1928 Olympics
Personal information
Born(1902-06-18)18 June 1902
Hämeenkyrö, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire
Died11 February 1980(1980-02-11) (aged 77)
Hämeenkyrö, Finland
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight82 kg (181 lb)
ClubTampereen Pyrintö
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  Finland
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1928 Amsterdam Decathlon

Paavo Ilmari Yrjölä (18 June 1902 in Hämeenkyrö – 11 February 1980 in Vilppula), also known as the Bear of Hämeenkyrö (Hämeenkyrön karhu), was a Finnish track and field athlete who won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1928 Summer Olympics.[1] He also competed in shot put and high jump at the same Games, and in decathlon in 1924 and 1932, but less successfully.[2]

In the 1928 Olympics, he had to rerun the 100 m hurdles as the fourth hurdle was placed incorrectly in the first run.[3] Finland took the top two spots in the decathlon that year with Yrjölä taking the gold (with a world record) and Akilles Järvinen the silver.

In his years of competing, Yrjölä set three officially ratified world records: 7820 points in 1926 (6460 according to the current scoring tables and with standard manual timing corrections of 0.24 seconds for 100 metres and 110 metre hurdles, 0.14 seconds for 400 metres and nothing for 1500 metres), 7995 points[4] in 1927 (6586) and 8053 in the 1928 Summer Olympics (6587).[3] Yrjölä was the first decathlete to score higher than Jim Thorpe at the 1912 Summer Olympics. Thorpe's performance wasn't officially recognized as a record due to his semi-professional status. Yrjölä set one more record in 1930 of 8117 points (6700), but this wasn't officially ratified.

Athletics was a family affair as his brother, Iivari Yrjölä, competed in the decathlon at the 1924 Olympics,[2] and his son, Matti Yrjölä, was a successful shotputter.

Major achievements[edit]



  1. ^ "Paavo Yrjölä". Olympedia. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Paavo Yrjölä". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Athletics at the 1928 Amsterdam Summer Games: Men's Decathlon". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
  4. ^ Yrjölä's first two world records sometimes appear as 7832.030 points and 8018.990 points respectively according to then current scoring tables. This discrepancy is explained in the former case by IAAF rounding up Yrjölä's times in the 110 metre hurdles and the 1500 metres to the accuracy of 1/5 of a second, as opposed to the 0.1 second accuracy actually used (this was according to the rules but was not done when converting to 6460 on modern scoring tables), and in the latter case by an actual discrepancy between the three clocks in the first event, 100 metres.
Preceded by Men's Decathlon World Record Holder
18 July 1926 – 20 July 1930
Succeeded by