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Finnish culture: Achievements in sports

After an unpredictable year, the Olympics are well underway. For Finns and non-Finns alike, this event always begs the question: How has Finland faired on the sport’s world stage? All of Finland’s sports achievements aren’t internationally well-known. But, undoubtedly, sports have always been an important aspect of Finnish culture. On top of that, Finland is home to many impressive athletes!

snowy mountains and a ski life

Finland’s greatest sports achievements

In 2017, Finland actually had the most Olympic medals per capita of any country in the world! Finns have had great achievements in both the Olympics and other competitions. Sports clearly belong among the many accolades that Finland boasts. Finnish athletes have thrived in a variety of different sports ranging from track and field, hockey, football, wrestling, and so on.


It’s impossible to talk about Finnish sports achievements without mentioning the Finnish national soccer team. Winter sports tend to be more popular in Finland due to the climate. So, it’s no surprise that soccer and Finland aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence. That was until the Finnish national team qualified for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament! This was the first major tournament that Finland has qualified for, making it a huge achievement for Finland in soccer. Despite the team’s performance during the tournament, Finnish people were still very proud. And, now the future of soccer in Finland looks very promising!

soccer ball on empty field


Hockey is an obvious sport where Finland has been very successful. Still, the Finnish national hockey team winning the IIHF World Cup in 2019 was a massive achievement for Finland. In fact, this team is one of the most successful hockey teams in the world! It helps that Finns love hockey! Or at least they love it when Finland makes it to the championships! When the national team is doing particularly well, the entire nation joins in on the excitement. Even those who claim to not like hockey are surprising pulled into the feeling of national pride that comes with it!

NHL superstars

Finland has the perfect climate for hockey. So, it’s make sense that the sport would gain popularity among top athletes. In fact, Finland is likely most well-known for its reputation in the international hockey world. Finnish hockey players are often in high demand for some of the best teams in the National Hockey League (NHL). And, it’s no surprise, all things considered.

Teemu Selänne is perhaps the best-known Finnish hockey player. And, he definitely deserves the title for his achievements in hockey, both in Finland and internationally. But, Selänne isn’t the only notable Finnish hockey player. There are many Finns in the NHL still today!

ice hockey players facing off

Formula One

Finns also have a well-known place in the Formula One racing world. Namely, Kimi Räikkönen who was the most recent driver to have won World Drivers’ Championships in 2007. Even more recently, Valtteri Bottas won races in the British Grand Prix in 2021 and in 2017 during the Russian Grand Prix. Bottas is also currently in forth place in this season of Formula One! It’s safe to say that Finns have achieved a lot in the world of racing with 9 Formula One drivers and many wins to show for it!

“Flying Finns”

Taking a look further into the past, track and field has also made great athletes. Hannes Kolehmainen and Paavo Nurmi are two well-known long-distance runners, who competed during the twentieth century. Fun fact! For their achievements, “Flying Finns” became their nickname. Both athletes won multiple gold medals during the Olympics. Now, they have a place in the Finnish sport’s hall of fame for their sports achievements.

sports only found in finland

While Finnish athletes have made strides in internationally known sports, Finnish culture also boasts some extraordinary sports. These sports, though well-loved, are only found in Finland. From wife-carrying, rubber boot throwing, swamp soccer, hobby horsing, and air guitar, Finns embrace their uniqueness. These “crazy” sports deserve their own mention because they truly symbolise Finnish culture. Finland is a country of independent-thinkers and people who pave their own paths. The only way to really understand it is to come study in Finland!

Finnish culture in sports

Now you can come experience Finnish culture for yourself! Complete the Pathway to Finland program business track and you can progress to Kajaani University of Applied Sciences’ (KAMK’s) bachelors in Sports Studies or eSports Business!

Or read more about Finnish culture in our blogs!

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