Tomi Poikolainen: Finland's youngest gold medal winner 

Moscow 1980 OG, Archery, individual (FITA Olympic round) Men - Tomi POIKOLAINEN (FIN) 1st after his victory.
Moscow 1980 OG, Archery, individual (FITA Olympic round) Men - Tomi POIKOLAINEN (FIN) 1st after his victory.

The Olympic Games are full of champions, records and stories, but they’re also an incredible encyclopaedia of strange, funny, emotional and sad moments. We’ll dig some out every week to put a smile on your face or a tear in your eye. This week: Archer Tomi Poikolainen from Finland - who made his mark at Moscow 1980.

The background

Exactly four decades ago, Finnish archer Tomi Poikolainen made his debut at the men's archery individual event at Moscow 1980 at only 18-years-of-age.

With the United States - the dominant force at that time in archery - being absent from the Moscow Olympics, this meant the podium was up for grabs for any nation and athlete.

Poikolainen was coached by Kyosti Laasonen, an Olympian himself who won bronze in Munich 1972. But for a young athlete like Poikolainen, who hasn't had enough exposure in the world stage, things could go either way - it could either be a historic victory or a devastating turn out.

But it wasn't only Poikolainen who was gunning for an Olympic medal. A total of 25 nations and 38 male and 29 female athletes took part at the Games - all dreaming of winning.

As for the sport, Moscow 1980 was hugely significant as it saw the sport return to the Olympic programme for a third time since Munich 1972 - after an absence of 52 years.

To point out its importance: The Games had been the only major archery event held in the Russian Federation until last year's World Cup final.

The moment

The Olympic archery event was held at the Krylatskoye Olympic Sports Centre in Moscow and ran for four days between 30 July and 2 August. Each male archer needs to shoot 36 arrows each at four distances for each two rounds- 90, 50, 70 and 30 metres - where ten points will be given as the highest score for each arrow for a possible 2880 points.

In the first two days of competition, Pokolainen had been trailing behind his opponents. But on the third day, the Finnish archer was unstoppable.

As worldarchery.org reported, Boris Isachenko, who won silver medal for the former Soviet Union said: “He was not considered the main rival.

"His rapid ascent took place on the third day of competition, and after 50 metres his result was already causing concern,” he added.

The last day was raining hard but Poikolainen still held through scoring 2455 points in total, and winning a gold medal by a small margin of only 3 points against Isachenko.

Los Angeles 1984 OG, Archery, individual (FITA Olympic round) Men - Tomi POKOLAINEN (FIN).
Los Angeles 1984 OG, Archery, individual (FITA Olympic round) Men - Tomi POKOLAINEN (FIN).
© 1984 / IOPP / VREEKER, Paul

The impact

Up to this day, Poikolainen will be remembered as the youngest gold medallist from Finland.

Whilst he wasn't able to equal this early success, he participated in a total of five Olympic Games until Atlanta 1996. He placed fifth in Los Angeles 1984 and 11th in Seoul 1988, but in Barcelona 1992 took a silver medal in the team event just two points behind the Spanish team.

His career span four decades for a total of 26-years. On top of being a competitive archer, Poikolainen has also been working as a firefighter for almost 35 years in his hometown Hyvinkää.

In 2014, Poikolainen returned to the sport and broke a national record.