63 of the Fittest Men of All-Time

Paavo Nurmi

When he showed up to Paris for the 1924 Olympics, expectations were riding high for Paavo Nurmi. He’d already earned three gold medals at the previous Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, and people were hoping for a repeat performance. Nurmi didn’t disappoint.

The five golds he won that year in Paris were at the time the most taken home by any athlete in a single Olympic Games. Nurmi crossed the finish line first in the 1,500- and 5,000-meter races, the individual team cross-country races, and one more time in the 3,000-meter team race.

But it wasn’t until 2005 that Nurmi achieved the highest honor of all—a shout-out on The Simpsons. “Did you know,” Mr. Burns says of his antique automobile, “that this car once outraced the Flying Finn, Paavo Nurmi?”

Photograph: Getty Images