The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Estonia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Estonian Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 3,055 Athletes, 27 of which were born in Estonia. This makes Estonia the birth place of the 29th most number of Athletes behind South Korea and Croatia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Estonian Athletes of all time. This list of famous Estonian Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Estonian Athletes.

Photo of Jüri Lossmann

1. Jüri Lossmann (1891 - 1984)

With an HPI of 64.31, Jüri Lossmann is the most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages on wikipedia.

Jüri Lossmann (4 February [O.S. 23 January] 1891 – 1 May 1984) was an Estonian long distance runner. He finished second in the marathon at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, at 2:32:48.6, trailing Hannes Kolehmainen by 13 seconds, but beating the third-placed Valerio Arri by almost 4 minutes. At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris he was the flag bearer for Estonia and finished tenth in the marathon.

Photo of Aleksander Klumberg

2. Aleksander Klumberg (1899 - 1958)

With an HPI of 63.86, Aleksander Klumberg is the 2nd most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Aleksander Klumberg (since 1936 Kolmpere; 17 April 1899 – 10 February 1958) was an Estonian decathlete. He competed in several events at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics and won a bronze medal in the decathlon in 1924. In 1922 he became the first official world record holder in the decathlon, albeit with a performance inferior to the Stockholm 1912 series of Jim Thorpe.Klumberg took up athletics around 1912, and in 1915–17 held Russian records in several jumping and throwing events. Besides athletics he won three Estonian titles in bandy. In 1918–19 he fought in the Estonian War of Independence as a volunteer, and after that worked as a physical education instructor with the Estonian army (1919–20), military schools (1924–26) and police schools (1927 and 1942–44). He also trained the national athletics teams of Poland (1927–32) and Estonia, and in this capacity attended the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics. He was arrested by NKVD in 1944 and kept in a prison camp in the Soviet Far East until 1956. He is buried at the Rahumäe cemetery in Tallinn.

Photo of Alfred Schmidt

3. Alfred Schmidt (1898 - 1972)

With an HPI of 62.62, Alfred Schmidt is the 3rd most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Alfred Schmidt (from 1936 Ain Sillak, 1 May 1898 – 5 November 1972) was an Estonian featherweight weightlifter who won a silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics.Schmidt first trained in long-distance running, and took up weightlifting in 1919 while serving in the Estonian Army. Next year he won an Olympic silver medal, and in 1922 a national title. At the 1922 World Championships he was not allowed to compete, as he surpassed the body weight limit of his division, and hence acted as an official and referee. He continued to act in this capacity after retiring from competitions in 1923. He also refereed wrestling competitions and was a board member of the Estonian Sports Union. Later he became known as a trap shooter and referee, and headed the Estonian Trap Shooting Federation.

Photo of Alfred Neuland

4. Alfred Neuland (1895 - 1966)

With an HPI of 61.76, Alfred Neuland is the 4th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Alfred Karl Neuland (10 October 1895 – 16 November 1966) was an Estonian weightlifter. He competed in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics and won a gold and a silver medal, respectively, becoming the first Olympic gold medalist from Estonia. He won a world title in 1922, and set three ratified world record in 1920–23: one in the snatch and two in the clean and jerk.Born in Walk, Livonia Neuland studied in Riga, Latvia, and Saint Petersburg, Russia. He took up weightlifting relatively early, and placed second at the Russian championships in 1913 and 1914; he won the Russian lightweight title in 1915 and middleweight title in 1916. Neuland then fought in World War I and in the Estonian War of Independence, and after demobilization he won Estonian weightlifting titles in 1921, 1923 and 1924. After that he retired from competitions and worked as a businessman, weightlifting coach and referee in his hometown of Valga from 1921 to 1940. From 1950 to 1955, Neuland headed the Estonian Experimental Soft Drinks Factory in Tallinn. In 1995 a monument in his honor was installed in Valga, and since 2000 an annual memorial weightlifting tournament has been held there.

Photo of Harald Tammer

5. Harald Tammer (1899 - 1942)

With an HPI of 61.31, Harald Tammer is the 5th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Harald Tammer (9 January 1899 – 6 June 1942) was an Estonian journalist, athlete and weightlifter. As a heavyweight weightlifter he won a world title in 1922 and a bronze medal at the 1924 Olympics. As an athlete he competed in the shot put at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics and came sixth and twelfth, respectively. He served as the Olympic flag bearer for Estonia in 1920, and as a representative of the Estonian Olympic team in 1928 and 1936.

Photo of Roman Steinberg

6. Roman Steinberg (1900 - 1928)

With an HPI of 60.11, Roman Steinberg is the 6th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Roman Steinberg (after 1928, Roman Kivimägi; 5 April 1900 – 30 May 1939), was an Estonian Greco-Roman wrestling bronze medal winner in middleweight class at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Steinberg was also three times Estonian wrestling champion 1921–1923, coached by Robert Oksa. He died after contracting tuberculosis, age 39, and was buried at Alexander Nevsky Cemetery, Tallinn.

Photo of Arnold Luhaäär

7. Arnold Luhaäär (1905 - 1965)

With an HPI of 59.71, Arnold Luhaäär is the 7th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Arnold Luhaäär (20 October 1905 – 19 January 1965) was an Estonian heavyweight weightlifter. He competed in the 1928 and 1936 Olympics and won a silver and a bronze medal, respectively. He missed the 1932 games because Estonia could not afford sending a full team to Los Angeles during the Great Depression.Luhaäär took up weightlifting in 1919 and won the national title in 1926, 1928, 1932–34 and 1936–38. In 1931 he also won the national Greco-Roman wrestling championships. Besides his Olympic medals he placed third at the 1938 World Championships and set a world record in the clean and jerk in 1937. After retiring from competitions he worked as a sports official and referee. In 1935–40 and 1945–52 he was a board member of the Estonian Weightlifting Federation, and in 1946–48 headed sport club Spartak Tallinn. Since 1992 an annual weightlifting tournament has been held in his hometown of Mõisaküla in his honor.

Photo of Jüri Tarmak

8. Jüri Tarmak (1946 - )

With an HPI of 59.53, Jüri Tarmak is the 8th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Jüri Tarmak (born 21 July 1946) is a former Estonian high jumper who competed for the Soviet Union.Tarmak took up athletics in 1963, following his father Aadu Tarmak, who was the Soviet champion in the discus throw in 1943–44. In 1970 he became a member of the Soviet national team. He won a silver and a bronze medal at European indoor championships in 1971 and 1972, and an Olympic gold medal in 1972. For this achievement he was awarded the Order of the Badge of Honor. Tarmak was the last Olympic champion who used the straddle technique. In 1974 he retired from competitions, and next year graduated in economics from the Saint Petersburg State University. In 1985 he defended a PhD in economics and in 1985–1990 lectured at the same university. After the breakup of the Soviet Union he returned to his native Estonia where in 1990 founded an investment company, Broker Baltic AS. He later became a vice-president and consultant with the Tallinn Stock Exchange. He remained involved with sport and between 2001 and 2012 headed the sports club Kompass Tallinn.

Photo of Jaan Kikkas

9. Jaan Kikkas (1892 - 1944)

With an HPI of 59.22, Jaan Kikkas is the 9th most famous Estonian Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Juhan "Jaan" Kikkas (5 June 1892 – 9 March 1944) was an Estonian middleweight weightlifter. He won a bronze medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics, setting a world record in the snatch.Kikkas first trained as a cyclist, and changed to weightlifting in 1921, aged 29. Next year he placed fourth at the world championships. In 1925 he won his only national weightlifting title. After retiring from competitions he ran his metal workshop in Tallinn. He died there in 1944 during a Soviet air raid.

Photo of Adalberts Bubenko

10. Adalberts Bubenko (1910 - 1983)

With an HPI of 59.20, Adalberts Bubenko is the 10th most famous Estonian Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Adalberts Bubenko (January 16, 1910 – July 7, 1983) was a Latvian athlete, who competed mainly in the 50 kilometre walk. He competed for Latvia in the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, Germany in the 50 kilometre walk where he won the bronze medal.

Pantheon has 27 people classified as athletes born between 1891 and 1990. Of these 27, 17 (62.96%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Jüri Tarmak, Jaak Uudmäe, and Jüri Tamm. The most famous deceased athletes include Jüri Lossmann, Aleksander Klumberg, and Alfred Schmidt. As of October 2020, 9 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Arnold Luhaäär, Adalberts Bubenko, and Ilmar Kullam.

Living Athletes

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Deceased Athletes

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Newly Added Athletes (2020)

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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 10 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.