This miniature statue is one of a series made in the 1950’s after the model of the famous running statue of Paavo Nurmi sculpted by Wäinö Aaltonen in 1925. Hundreds of miniature statues like this were sold to raise funds for a new sports hall at the Technological University campus at Otaniemi. Their exact number is not known.
A statue like this was used in a famous practical joke. In April 1961 Swedish marine archeologists were about to salvage the wreck of the Vasa, warship sunk in 1628 off the harbour of Stockholm. In the night before the ship was to be raised from the water, a group of Finnish student divers planted a statue to the ship’s deck, complete with the inscription in convincing Latin: ”Paavo Nurmi, the Great Finnish Runner”.