Finnish Sport Specialities

Currently the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020  are coming towards the end. For this year, Finland has so far achieved two bronze medals, one in men’s 200m breaststroke and another medal in women’s 60kg boxing. Back in the day Finland did pretty well in the Olympics – both summer and winter. Until Michael Phelps  came along, a Finn called Paavo Nurmi had the most Olympic gold medals ever, nine. However, recently there have been less medals and the phenomenal olympic success is just a distant memory.


Paavo Nurmi, photo: Finnish Heritage Agency

However, as an innovative – and a bit crazy – nation we have invented some of our own interesting “sports” that are equally unique and fun! Also inventing a new sport opens up a possibility to gain world champion status in it. 


The sport of wife-carrying was first introduced in Sonkajärvi, Finland , where the world championships are also organized yearly. The idea with wife-carrying is that male competitors race while each is carrying a female teammate. The team goes through a special obstacle track and the winners are the ones with the fastest time. The wife-carrying competitions have been organized since 1986. Unfortunately due to Covid19-pandemic the event is cancelled for this year, but keep it in mind if you are organizing travel to Finland next year. 


Photo: Visit Finland

Gumboot Throwing

Another interesting sport we have originated is gumboot throwing. Rules are simple, and basically the name tells it all – the winner is the one who throws the boot furthest. Women and men have their own categories and boot sizes. Finnish people are not the only ones who have gotten excited about this sport and the World Cup has also been organized in Estonia, Sweden, Russia, Italy, and Germany. It is a popular hobby in many other countries too, as far as New Zealand. 


   Photo: Visit Finland

Swamp Soccer

In Finland cross-country skiers have been practicing basic fitness at the swamp during summer for decades. That is where the idea of combining the swamp and one of the most popular sports in the world – football came from.The first competition was organized in 1998, and since two years later in 2000 the World Championships have taken place at Vuorisuo. Swamp soccer is suitable for anyone who doesn’t mind getting dirty and wants to experience something unforgettable. Rules are based on real football rules, with a little twist. There are actually yearly more than 2,000 players from all over the world. Needless to mention, this event is also cancelled from this year but keep it also in mind for the future. 

So here are a few examples of what kind of unique sports Finland has to offer. Now you are also perfectly on time for starting to practice for next summer, enjoy! ⚽⚽⚽

Banned Finnish Sports

In the past there were a few rather bizarre “sports” that were organized, however due to ethical reasons and unfortunate events they are not organized anymore.

Mosquito Killing and Mobile Phone throwing

Two of these championships were mosquito killing and mobile phone throwing. Both of these genres were even organized on World Championships level, however it has already been a while since the last competition. But not to worry, there are plenty of strange sports and events still organized in Finland as you could have read before. 

Competitive Sauna sitting

The World Sauna Championships originated from Heinola, Finland where the championships were also held yearly starting from 1999 until 2010. Basically the idea behind it was to compete in who could sit in the sauna the longest with increasing and very extreme heat. Unfortunately in 2010 the event had a dramatic turn and Russiam competitor Vladimir Ladyzhensky died and Finnish competitor Timo Kaukonen was seriously injured during the final of the championships. After the tragedy, the competition has not been held anymore, and doubtedly will ever return. We recommend highly not to take advice from this sport, however, to read more about good things and benefits of sauna , and how to enjoy it correctly.

Photo: Emilia Hoisko Photography/Visit Finland