Nothing beats home success in major championships. From Juha Väätäinen’s long distance double in Helsinki to Snezana Pajkic’s unexpected 1500m title in Split and Dafne Schippers’ 100m title in Amsterdam, we remember eight incredible home victories in European Championships history. 

Vaatainen’s electric distance double in Helsinki

Juha Väätäinen ushered in the new era of Finnish distance runners in the 1970s with a phenomenal long distance double at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki. 

Five athletes have completed the 5000/10,000m double on the men’s side at the European Championships but Vaatainen is the only athlete to achieve the distinction of achieving this double on home soil. His double was greeted with pandemonium from the fans with some even throwing their seat cushions onto the track in the Olympic Stadium. 

With a blistering sprint finish which would surely make him competitive on the continental stage five decades later, Vaatainen – who ran a hand-timed 100m in 10.9 as a teenager – outsprinted reigning two-time champion Jurgen Haase in the 10,000m with a 53.6 last lap in the 10,000m before unleashing a 53.0 last lap to win the 5000m.

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