Athletics Championships returned in 1946 in Oslo, where men and women competed at the same venue for the first time in history. Four years later, the event was hosted by Brussels at the Heysel Stadium. 454 athletes from 24 nations took part in the 4th edition of the event, a strong representation of Europe in the midst of reconstruction after WWII.

Löpning, Specialprojekt
Karhu SE


The 1950 European Championships were the prelude to the most remarkable feat achieved by a runner in the history of sports. In Brussels, Emil Zátopek won the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. Only two years later at the Helsinki Olympics, the same man who “couldn’t run and smile at the same time” won gold and broke world records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. What’s more, he also broke a record in the marathon where he made his debut in this very Finnish Olympic edition. Born in Moravia and inspired by the legend of Paavo Nurmi, Zátopek was nicknamed the 'Locomotive' for how he huffed and puffed during his sprints. His myth goes hand in hand with the story of KARHU: the athlete who "ran without money in his pockets but hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” In fact, he wore KARHU shoes throughout his career. To this day, Zátopek is considered one, if not the greatest, runner in athletics history. He also boasts another continental success in the 10,000 meters in Bern 1954.   


Adolfo Consolini's discus flew 53.75 meters through the skies of Brussels, setting a new European record. It’s just one of many mind-bending performances by this legendary Italian discus thrower. After working as a farmhand when he was a teenager, Consolini climbed to the top European podium for three consecutive editions (Oslo 1946, Brussels 1950, and Bern 1954), cementing his reputation with an Olympic gold medal in London in 1948. The talent of the three-time world record holder was matched only by his passion for the sport. It was a love that accompanied him until 1969, the year of his untimely death. Indeed, Consolini continued to compete until the age of 52 when illness got the best of him. To this day, Adolfo Consolini remains one of the most successful discus throwers in history and a legend in world athletics.


 Following World War II, KARHU's presence in major international athletics events spread far and wide. In order to understand the impact that the Finnish brand had on the athletics movement, fifteen gold medals at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics are marked with the famous KARHU bear, along with another historic symbol: three stripes. Before it was sold to another well-known brand, KARHU had developed the idea of putting three stripes on its footwear. The three KARHU stripes branded some of the greatest athletic performances of the postwar period, such as those of Emil Zátopek. 

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The close connection between KARHU and the international athletic scene of the mid-twentieth century is as clear as day and led to the brand’s expansion beyond Finnish borders into the international arena.

Photo Credits - IMAGO / UIG / Ed Gar / Imagebroker / United Archives / TopFoto