Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted

Sport: Track and Field
Inducted: 1981
Country: Finland
Born: 1901 in Abo, Finland
Died: December 1947

At the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, Elias Katz won a gold medal as a member of Finland’s championship 3,000-Meter Cross Country team (8:32.0). His teammates included the legendary Paavo Nurmi and Willie Ritola. Katz also won a silver medal in Paris in the 3,000-Meter
Steeplechase, finishing second to Ritola, who set an Olympic record in the event. Earlier, Katz established the Olympic record, 9:43.8, in his first heat of the steeplechase. His best time in the 3,000-Meter Steeplechase was 9:40.9, in 1923.

Katz ran the second leg on his Finnish club’s 4 X 1,500 Relay team that set two World records—the first, 16:26.2, in July 1926 and the second later that year, lowering the mark to 16:11.4.

In 1925, Bar Kochba of Berlin, the first Jewish national sports club in Central Europe founded in 1898, invited Katz to represent the Club. He did, but returned to his native Finland in 1927 to prepare for the 1928 Olympic Games. When a severe foot injury ended his
chances to compete in the Amsterdam Olympiad, Katz returned to Germany and Bar Kochba. His presence encouraged many outstanding German Jewish athletes to join the Club, which
flourished until the Nazis forced it to disband in the early 1930s.

Katz emigrated to Palestine in 1933 and was selected to coach the Israeli Olympic Track Team for the 1948 Games in London. This would be Israel’s first team in the Olympic Games. But, neither he nor the Israeli team ever got to England. Israel was not admitted into the Olympic family until the 1952 Olympic Games, and Katz was murdered by Arab terrorists in December 1947, while working as a film projectionist at a British army camp near Gaza.


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