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Aale Tynni

Aale Maria Tynni-Haavio (née Tynni, 1940–1960 Tynni-Pirinen)
Born October 3, 1913, Venjoki (Ingrian Kolppana).  Died October 21, 1997, Helsinki

Master of Arts (Finnish Literature), 1936 and Doctor of Philosophy, 1977, University of Helsinki

Poet, author, translator, literary and theatre critic

Awards and special achievements
State Award for Literature, 1943, 1947
Gold medallist, literature category of Art competition, for ‘Hellan laakeri’ (‘The laurels of Hellas’), London Olympics, 1948
White Rose of Finland, Ist class
Pro Finlandia Medal, 1959
Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, 1977
WSOY publisher’s translation prize, 1981
Academician (Arts), 1982
Finnish Cultural Fund award, 1982
City of Helsinki award, 1985
Henrik Steffens Prize, 1985
Italian Foreign Ministry Gold medal
Milan’s Giacomo Leopardi medal
Founding Member, Finnish-Irish Society

Photo: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by John Calton

Finland’s unsung Olympic heroine?

The inception of an Olympics for the arts was the brainchild of Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic games. Olympic medals were distributed on eight occasions to works of art inspired by sport. The categories covered were architecture, literature, music, painting and graphic art together with sculpture. The last time this was organised was at the London Olympics of 1948.

Quite apart from the main sporting events, the Finnish performances in London were excellent in the artistic competitions, too.  The literature category was won by Aale Tynni with her poem ‘Hellan laakeri’ (‘The laurels of Hellas’), whilst in the architecture category Yrjö Lindegren’s work Varkauden yleisurheilukeskus (‘The Varkaus athletics centre’) also won gold. In the music category, Kalervo Tuukkanen’s composition Karhunpyynti (‘The bear hunt’) won a silver medal. These artistic Olympics ended after the London games, since it was reckoned that artists were professional and the Olympics were for amateur sportsmen and women. From 1956 were replaced by a parallel ‘Cultural Olympiad’.


Aale Tynni wins Olympic Gold in Muonio – Yle radio archives

In the archived series Kiveen hakatut (‘Inscribed in stone’) from 2007, the producer for YLE Sports, Arto Teronen and reporter Jouko Vuolle stand by the gravestones of twelve Finnish sportsmen and women, and influential figures in the world of sport, and reflect on their life and work: “Aale Tynni, despite winning gold, has no Olympic rings inscribed on her gravestone.”



Sources and further information (in Finnish):

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