"The Flying Finn" was a nickname given to several Finnish middle and long-distance runners. The term has international renown and it is often attached to notable Finnish sportsmen whose exploits are fleet of foot.
The nickname was first used of Hannes Kolehmainen, also known as "Smiling Hannes", as he took home three gold medals during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. As Finnish runners started to dominate long-distance running, the nickname was passed on to all successful Finns in the sport, including multi-Olympic gold medalists Paavo Nurmi and Ville Ritola. Nurmi won three gold medals at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium and five at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, where he was partenered with Ritola, who ran to four gold medals. Volmari Iso-Hollo, the winner of 3000m steeplechase at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Olympics, was one of the best-known Finnish runners in the 1930s and also nicknamed the Flying Finn. The last long distance Flying Finn in running was Lasse Virén, who won the 5000m and 10,000m events at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics.The latest multiday Flying Finn is Pekka Aalto who specializes in the Self-Transcendence 3100 mile race, winning the race several times.