Paavo Nurmi of Finland was the first Olympic athlete to win at least five gold medals in one Olympiad, and finished his Olympic career with nine gold medals. Nicknamed “The Flying Finn”, Nuurmi won three gold medals in Antwerp in 1920, reigning supreme in the 10,000m, the cross-country individual and team event.
Four years later in Paris, Nurmi topped five events within a span of just four days. He could have easily won a sixth gold in his favorite 10,000m, but Finnish officials, fearful that Nurmi would over-extend himself, prevented him from racing in the event. Nurmi was so incensed that when got back to Finland, he went out and set a world record in the 10,000m. He got that elusive second gold in the 10,000m in Amsterdam in 1928, along with silvers in the 5,000m and the steeplechase.
But that would prove to be his last Olympic Games after the IAAF declared him a professional athlete for accepting offers to grace numerous athletic events, thus denying the Flying Finn of a chance to win a 10th Olympic gold. (Source: Olympic.org)
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