The Czech Locomotive (95 years)

29.06.2017 | 23:17
The Czech Locomotive (95 years)

This is how they came to hear of Emil Zátopek, the Czech athlete and four-time Czechoslovak athletics Olympic champion, nicknamed Nory Satupeka – Fairytale Pete. Emil was born on 19 September 1922 in Kopřivnice on the same day, month, and year as his future wife Dana Ingrová, the Olympic javelin champion.

He grew up in a poor family with seven siblings and from the age of 16 worked at the Baťa shoe factory in Zlín. His athletics career began in 1941 when he fi nished second in his fi rst race. His aim was to fi nish fi rst in the future so he began training with Jan Haluza, who later became his unoffi - cial coach. Three years later, he broke the Czech record over the 2 km, 3 km and 5 km distances. This was Emil’s ticket to the European Championship in Oslo in 1946, where he fi nished fi fth in the 5 km race and broke his personal record. Even though the Summer Olympic Games in London in 1948 were his fi rst games, he still fi nished second in the 5 km race and won the 10 km race. One year later, he broke the 10 km world record twice in the same year and became the holder of several other world records. He also won the 5 km and 10 km races at the European Championship in Brussels, Belgium in 1950. In 1954, he was fi rst once again in the 10 km race at the European Championship in Bern. In 1952, Emil won three gold medals at the Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki; one of which was for the marathon, which he ran for the fi rst time. He failed to defend his gold medal from the marathon in 1956 due to injury, after which he never regained his form and retired from athletics (1958). Emil Zátopek died on 21 November 2000 and one month later was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal.

Lucie Sládková



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