Elias Katz

Last updated
Elias Katz
Paavo Nurmi at the 1920 Olympic trials.jpg
Katz (right) behind Paavo Nurmi and Oskari Rissanen in 1920
Medal record
Men’s athletics
Representing Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Olympic Games
Gold medal icon (G initial).svg 1924 Paris 3000 metre team
Silver medal icon (S initial).svg 1924 Paris 3000 metre steeplechase

Elias Katz (22 June 1901 26 December 1947) [1] was a Finnish track and field athlete, who competed mainly in the 3000 metres steeplechase.


Katz was born in Turku to a Jewish family. [2] He frequented local nightclubs, participated in dance marathons, and played soccer with the small Jewish sports club in Turku. While an amateur athlete, he worked as a shop assistant. When he was 18, Katz was invited to participate in a mid-distance race. After defeating the reigning champion, it was suggested to him to become a professional athlete. He began training in the main sports club of Turku, where he befriended the legendary Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, who helped Katz improve his technique. [3] He moved to Helsinki in 1921, where he joined the Jewish sports club Stjärnan, later Makkabi Helsinki. He ran two distances in the Finland-France competition in 1923 and became a candidate for the Finnish Olympic team. [4]

Katz competed for Finland in the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris, France in the 3000-meter steeple chase where he won the silver medal. He then joined with Paavo Nurmi and Ville Ritola to win the gold medal in the 3,000-meter team race as well.

In 1925, Katz moved to Berlin, where he joined the Bar Kokhba Jewish sports club. He worked at the KWD department store in Berlin to support himself. In 1926, he was part of the Finnish four-member team that set the world record in the 1,500-meter relay race. An ankle injury prevented him from participating in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, and he worked as a trainer in the Bar Kokhba club until the Nazis came to power in Germany and banned Jews from participating in sport activities. Rather than return to Finland, Katz immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1933 along with many other fellow Bar Kokhba club members. There, he changed his name to Eliyahu and coached athletes of the Maccabi Association. Katz was coach of the Palestinian track team for the 1948 Maccabi Games. His coaching was on a voluntary basis in his spare time - he had hoped to find employment as a trainer, but was unpaid for his work and struggled to make a living. He worked as a guard and maintenance man at the Maccabiah Stadium in Tel Aviv, a bricklayer on construction sites, and a traveling film projectionist for the British Army. [3] [4]

In 1936, Katz married Dvora Kamtsan, a fellow Finnish Jewish immigrant to Palestine, and they had one daughter, Ilana, who was born in 1944. [4]

In December 1947, as the Civil War in Mandatory Palestine was raging, Katz screened a film at a British military camp in the Gaza area. Later that evening, he was killed by Arab sniper fire. [5] [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Paavo Nurmi Finnish middle and long distance runner

Paavo Johannes Nurmi was a Finnish middle-distance and long-distance runner. He was called the "Flying Finn" or the "Phantom Finn", as he dominated distance running in the early 20th century. Nurmi set 22 official world records at distances between 1500 metres and 20 kilometres, and won nine gold and three silver medals in his twelve events in the Summer Olympic Games. At his peak, Nurmi was undefeated for 121 races at distances from 800 m upwards. Throughout his 14-year career, he remained unbeaten in cross country events and the 10,000 m.

1952 Summer Olympics Games of the XV Olympiad, held in Helsinki in 1952

The 1952 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held from 19 July to 3 August 1952 in Helsinki, Finland.

Ville Ritola Finnish long-distance runner

Vilho "Ville" Eino Ritola was a Finnish long-distance runner. Known as one of the "Flying Finns", he won five Olympic gold medals and three Olympic silver medals in the 1920s. He holds the record of winning most athletics medals at a single Games – four golds and two silvers in Paris 1924 - and ranks second in terms of most athletics gold medals at a single Games.

Cross country running Sport of racing on natural terrain

Cross country running is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. Sometimes the runners are referred to as harriers. The course, typically 4–12 kilometres (2.5–7.5 mi) long, may include surfaces of grass and earth, pass through woodlands and open country, and include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road. It is both an individual and a team sport; runners are judged on individual times and teams by a points-scoring method. Both men and women of all ages compete in cross country, which usually takes place during autumn and winter, and can include weather conditions of rain, sleet, snow or hail, and a wide range of temperatures.

Hannes Kolehmainen Finnish long-distance runner

Juho Pietari "Hannes" Kolehmainen was a Finnish four-time Olympic Gold medalist and a world record holder in middle- and long-distance running. He was the first in a generation of great Finnish long-distance runners, often named the "Flying Finns". Kolehmainen competed for a number of years in the United States, wearing the Winged Fist of the Irish American Athletic Club. He also enlisted in the 14th Regiment of the National Guard of New York, and became a U.S. citizen in 1921.

Toivo Loukola

Toivo Aarne Loukola was a Finnish male runner, winner of the 3000 metres steeplechase at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Loukola set an unofficial world record in the steeplechase just a month before the Olympics.

Finland at the 1924 Summer Olympics Sporting event delegation

Finland competed at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. 121 competitors, all men, took part in 69 events in 12 sports.

Turun Urheiluliitto (TuUL) is a sports club from Turku, Finland that was founded in 1901. The club includes sports teams for cross-country skiing, bowling, volleyball, ice skating, boxing, cycling, triathlon, gymnastics and track and field.

George Young (runner) American athlete

George L. Young is an American former track athlete and college coach. He won a bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in the 3000 meter steeplechase and held several American records in events ranging from the two mile to the 5000 meter race. He broke two world records, in the indoor two and three mile events.

Veikko Karvonen Finnish long-distance runner

Veikko Leo Karvonen was a Finnish long-distance runner who mainly competed in the marathon. He won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 1956 Summer Olympics. At the 1954 European Championships he won the gold medal in the marathon and the following year won the Boston Marathon.

Juha Väätäinen Finnish former athlete (born 1941)

Juha Väätäinen is a Finnish former athlete. He is the winner of the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter gold medals at the 1971 European Championships, held in Helsinki. He was the eldest of the successful Finnish runners, the others being Lasse Virén, Pekka Vasala, Tapio Kantanen, Martti Vainio, and Kaarlo Maaninka, who came into the limelight in the 1970s. He served as a Member of the Finnish Parliament for Helsinki, representing the Finns Party between 2011 and 2015.

1932 Maccabiah Games

The 1st Maccabiah was the first edition of the Maccabiah, which was held in Mandatory Palestine from March 28 to April 2, 1932. The games were in commemoration of the 1800th anniversary of the Bar Kokhba revolt, a major rebellion by the Jews of Judaea Province against the Roman Empire. Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the first Maccabiah was regarded as a great success.

Paavo Nurmi Marathon (Turku)

The Paavo Nurmi Marathon is an annual marathon road running race held during summer in Turku, Finland, the birth city of Paavo Nurmi. Although various marathons have been held in Turku since 1910, the Paavo Nurmi Marathon was established in 1992. It is arranged along with Paavo Nurmi Games, a part of Paavo Nurmi happening week. The route goes through Turku city and Ruissalo park. The marathon attracts yearly 500 to 1000 participants.

John Luther "Blondy" Romig was an American track and field athlete. He won collegiate championships in the two-mile race in 1921 and 1922, finished fourth in the 1924 Summer Olympics in the 5,000 meter race and competed in the 1928 Olympics in the 10,000 meters.

Paavo is an Estonian and Finnish masculine given name, cognate to "Paul". The Finnish patronymic surname Paavolainen is derived from it.

Makkabi Helsinki is a Finnish Jewish sports club in Helsinki, Finland. It is the oldest Jewish sports club in the world that has an uninterrupted history. It was founded in 1906 with the name “Stjärnan”'. The current name was adopted in 1936.

Paavo the Great. Great Race. Great Dream. is an opera in three acts by Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen to a libretto by the poet Paavo Haavikko. The opera deals with the life of the Finnish middle- and long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi who won a total of nine Olympic gold medals in the 1920s. It was premiered in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium in 2000 as Helsinki was one of the European Capitals of Culture. The title refers to Nurmi's great ambition to win the marathon race at the 1940 Helsinki Olympics, which were not held because of the outbreak of World War II.

Eläintarha Stadium

Eläintarha Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium at the Eläintarha park in Helsinki, Finland. It was opened in 1910 as the first stadium in Helsinki. Today it is mostly used by track and field athletes.

Karl Ebb

Karl Alfred "Kalle" Ebb was an athlete and racing driver. He represented Finland at the Summer Olympics in athletics and was Finland's first internationally successful driver.


  1. Elias Katz at Olympedia OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
  2. Paul Taylor (2004). Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics : with a Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medallists. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 233–. ISBN   978-1-903900-87-1.
  3. 1 2 Forgotten Olympic track champion’s legacy races on in Israel
  4. 1 2 3 Remembering Elias Katz, Finnish Olympic champion
  5. http://isoh.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/21.pdf
  6. Lipman, Steve (August 6, 2004). "The Forgotten Olympians". Jewish Week. Retrieved 13 February 2014.

Further reading