Yrjö Nikkanen, Finland

Yrjö Nikkanen

World Records: 77.87m (255’ 5”)         Karhula, Finland        25 Aug 1938

78.70m (258’ 2”)         Kotka, Finland            16 Oct 1938

At age 18, in 1933, Yrjö Nikkanen was given two javelins by the legendary Matti Järvinen. Five years later, he would be defeating the great man.

Nikkanen had come second in the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the German Gerhard Stock, when Järvinen was injured. He finally caught up with Järvinen in 1938, beating Järvinen 8 times out of the 12 they competed. He also set two world records that year, with Järvinen second on both occasions. The second record took place at Kotka, where the temperature was low (6° C, 43° F) and the ground so wet that burning gasoline was used to dry it before the competition began. This record lasted 15 years, the longest interval for any javelin record. It was also the last record achieved with the old birch javelins.

However, Järvinen defeated Nikkanen at the 1938 European Championship, 76.87 meters (252’ 2”) to 75.00 meters (246’ 1”). After World War II Nikkanen competed in the 1946 European Championships. Once again he had to be satisfied with the silver medal, behind the Swede Lennart Atterwall, 68.74 meters (225’ 6”) to 67.30 meters (221’ 5”).

When his athletic days were over, Nikkanen took to drinking, and his health deteriorated.

source: World Record Breakers in Track & Field Athletics

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