Jukka Uunila


November 30, 2021

Ahti Juhani “Jukka” Uunila (June 4, 1923 Oulu - November 22, 2021 Helsinki) was a Finnish sports influencer who, due to his influence and the length of his career, has also been called the “Sports Kekkos”. In the most prominent positions he was the chairman of the Finnish Sports Federation (SVUL) in 1982–1993 (vice-chairman 1961–1981), the chairman of the Finnish Olympic Committee 1969–1984 (vice-chairman 1965–1968), the chairman of the Finnish Sports Federation (SUL) 1965–1974 and the executive director of Veikkaus 1973–1.


For the first time, Jukka Uunila lived in Himanga. His father, Kalle, served as district defense chief and his mother, Sally, as a primary school teacher. Jukka had two brothers. The family also engaged in farming. When the family moved to Kokkola, Jukka joined KPV's football activities. However, his ultimate sport became athletics, with the main event being the 400-meter hurdles at the national level. His career was short when he took on nationwide coaching and organizational roles.


In the summer of 1941, Uunila left the high school directly for further war. After the war, he studied at the Finnish Sports College in Vierumäki as a sports advisor and was hired as the regional coach of the Finnish Sports Association in 1946–1949. Uunila was the first director of Kuortane Sports College from 1949 to 1960, then the managing director of Ilkka Oy in Seinäjoki from 1960 to 1962 and then the managing director of Kvartto Oy, a printing house owned by Veikkaus in Helsinki from 1962 to 1973. or ministerial material. As a schoolboy, he planned a career as an officer, but the war changed his plans. He was an excellent speaker and performer with a vast amount of knowledge about the sport and extensive experience from the club level to national organizations. He was lured into politics, but he never agreed to run for any party in the election. The weakness of Uunila was the lack of language skills. Because of that, he never got into international leadership positions. Uunila was appointed Commercial Counselor in 1976. In addition to leading Veikkaus and the management of sports organizations, he was a member of the Supervisory Board of Union Öljy Oy and a long-term Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Tapiola Companies. Uunila was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of Finnish Sport for his merits in 1983. In 2008, Uunila was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Finnish Sports Gala for his work in sports. He is the honorary chairman of the Finnish Sports Federation. At the University of Jyväskylä, he received an honorary doctorate in physical education in 1982.


Uunila was elected to the board of the Finnish Sports Confederation at the age of 27 in 1951, younger than anyone before or after. He became chairman of SUL in 1965, when Finnish athletics was at a lower level than ever before, for example, no medals were won at the 1966 European Championships in Budapest. At the end of the 1960s, Chairman Uunila launched SUL's development program, which included reorganizing the organization, improving the financial situation, increasing coach training, general management training at the district and club level, and improving athletes' training opportunities, for example through a new scholarship system. Chairman Uunila acquired the world-famous endurance running coach Arthur Lydiard from New Zealand in Finland. Lydiard brought about a new rise in the traditional endurance race, which resulted in Juha Väätäinen's success at the 1971 European Championships in Helsinki and Lasse Virén's and Pekka Vasala's victories at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Olympic Committee

As chairman of the Olympic Committee, Uunila similarly restructured the organization and improved its finances.

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