Lauri Pihkala (1888–1981)
Lauri ”Tahko” Pihkala was an influential journalist and firebrand educator who made lasting contributions to Finnish sports on many fronts.
Pihkala represented Finland in athletics events at the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1912. After finishing his own sports career he moved to coaching. He was put in charge of sports education in the Finnish military but even more important was his work as writer and sports philosopher. Pihkala considered sports success of little value if does not contribute to general rise in fitness level of the whole nation.
The most famous of Pihkala’s many inventions was pesäpallo, a bat-and-ball game that combines elements of American baseball and old Finnish folk games. Conceived by Pihkala in the early 1920’s, pesäpallo is often considered the national game in Finland. The annual Lahti Ski Games, the Sports Institute of Finland at Vierumäki and skiing vacations for Finnish schoolchildren are also counted among Tahko Pihkala’s legacies.