Tomi Poikolainen’s international archery career spanned three decades, from 1976 until 2000, and five Olympic Games, from 1980 to 1996. The high point was, without a doubt, his Olympic debut in 1980.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Games in Moscow.

The Olympics were held amid international tensions that saw them boycotted by the USA and other nations. However, Finland was among those that attended and Tomi, aged 18, was part of the archery team.

After two days of competition, he sat in fifth.

“He was not considered the main rival. His rapid ascent took place on the third day of competition, and after 50 metres his result was already causing concern,” remembers Boris Isachenko, who was representing the host Soviet Union at the event.

The Games were decided on what would now be two 1440 Rounds – then called the double FITA – or 288 arrows over 90, 70, 50 and 30 metres, shot over four days.

By the time the tournament had gotten to the last distance on the last day, the rain had closed in. Tomi held his nerve, finished the event with 2455 in total, holding off a late surge from Isachenko to take the Olympic title by three points.

To this day, he remains Finland’s youngest champion at a summer Games.

Moscow was the third Olympics since archery’s return to the programme in 1972. Tomi’s win brought the only non-USA men’s champion in the first five editions.

Returning to the Games in 1984, Pokolainen placed fifth, and he followed that up with 11th in Seoul in 1988 – completing an impressive run of results at his first three Olympics.

In 1992, he was beaten by the returning champion from 1988, Jay Barrs, in the first round but took a silver medal in the team event with Jari Lipponen and Ismo Falck.

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