track and field
Katz was a member of Finland's track and field team at the 1924 Paris Olympics, winning a gold medal as a member of the 3,000-meter cross country team (8:32.0); he ran the final leg. He then won the silver medal in the 3000-meter steeplechase (9:44.0). Elias set an Olympic record in the qualifying heat of the steeplechase (9:43.8), which was subsequently broken by teammate Ville Ritola in the Olympic final.
In 1925, Bar Kochba of Berlin (the first Jewish national sports club in Germany and Central Europe) learned Katz was Jewish and invited him to represent the club. His presence encouraged other Jewish athletes to leave other athletic clubs and join Bar Kochba. In 1926, Katz ran the second leg on the world record-breaking 4x1500-meter Finnish relay team (16:11.4); he had also run the second leg when the Finns broke the record earlier in the year.
Anti-Semitism caused Elias to emigrate to Israel in 1933 and he was chosen to coach the track team in preparation for the first Israeli Olympic team's participation in the 1948 Games. In December 1947, however, while working as a film operator at Al Mugahzi, Katz was killed by Arabs after the evening film showing; Israel was not invited to the Olympics until 1952. Katz is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1901 - d. Dec. 1947
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, by Joseph Siegman (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 2000)
Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Complete Book of the Olympics, by David Wallechinsky (New York: Viking, 1988)