- 28 Jul 08, 06:50 AM
On Sunday, we looked at the domination of the Finnish distance runners in the early part of the last century. Well, it turns out that running a long way very quickly was not the only event the Finns excelled at in the pre-war years.
At the 1912 Stockholm Games, they claimed three of the five Greco-Roman wrestling titles on offer and picked up seven out of 15 medals.
They won the featherweight, lightweight and heavyweight divisions, but it was their performances in the middleweight and light-heavyweight that really made statisticians sit up and take notice.
In the latter event, the final between Sweden's Anders Ahlgren and Finland's Ivar Böhling went on, and on, and on, and on and, well, you get my drift.
It lasted an incredible nine hours before it was declared a draw, and as the rules stated that one wrestler must defeat another to win gold, no gold was awarded and they both had to settle for silver.
But if you thought that match may have been a bit of a bind to watch, then check out the middleweight semi-final between Finland's Alfred Asikainen and Russia's Martin Klein.
It was already being billed as a bit of a grudge match as Russia had been in control of Finland since 1908 and they were more than a little irked that the Finns were competing under their own flag.
The pair grappled for over 11 hours, the longest bout in history, before Klein pinned Asikainen to advance to the final.
But the Russian was so exhausted that he could not wrestle the next day, handing Sweden's Claes Johansson the gold.
Klein and Asikainen were afforded brief rests every 30 minutes, but their match led to time limits being imposed from the 1924 Games onward.
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