1970sABCOlympicsOther SportsTrack And Field

Olympics – 1972 Munich – Track – Mens 5000m & 10000m – FIN Lasse Viren – Part 1


At the 1972 Summer Olympics at Munich….Lasse Virén won both the 5,000 and the 10,000 meter events.  At the 10,000 meters final held on 3 September, Virén broke Ron Clarke’s 7-year-old world record….despite falling in the twelfth lap after getting tangled with Emiel Puttemans….as Tunisia’s Mohamed Gammoudi also fell after being tripped by Viren’s legs….and in less than 150 meters….Virén caught up with the leading pack after losing about 20m….and with 600m to go….Virén dropped the hammer and started an unprecedented lap-and-a-half kick that only Belgium’s Emiel Puttemans was able to respond to….but not outmatch. The Finn won the race in 27:38:40 (which is still the current record for the Olympiastadion). He became the fourth athlete to win both events in the same Olympics….joining fellow Finn Hannes Kolehmainen (1912), Czechoslovakia’s Emil Zátopek (1952) and Russian Vladimir Kuts (1956).  After them, Miruts Yifter (1980) and Kenenisa Bekele (2008), both from Ethiopia, and Mo Farah from Great Britain (2012), accomplished the coveted “double”. However, it must be stated that Kolehmainen, Virén (on both occasions) and Yifter were the only ones in this illustrious list that had to endure 10,000 meter heats to qualify for the 10,000 meters final, thus making winning the “double” more challenging. In the 5,000m finals one week later….Viren could keep up with Steve Prefontaine of the United States, Gammoudi, Puttemans and Ian Stewart of Great Britain, in the race’s quick final four laps. He sprinted past Gammoudi with around 110 to 120 metres to go, and won in 13:26.4, one second before Gammoudi. 

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