Emil Zátopek (September 19, 1922 – November 22, 2000) was considered to be one of the greatest long-distance runners of the 20th century. This Czechoslovak native shot to fame when he won three gold medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
Zátopek won gold in the 5000 meters and 10,000 meters runs, becoming the first athlete to break the 29-minute barrier in the 10,000 meters in 1954. In 1951, he broke the hour for running 20km. He set a total of 18 world records for long distance running competitions including the 500 meter and 30,000 meter races. Emil Zátopek was honored with the title “White Lion”, one of Czech’s highest awards in 1998 by the Czech President Vaclav Havel. He was posthumously awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal by the International Olympic Committee in 2000 and was named one of the twelve athletes inducted into the iAAF Hall of Fame.
Why Was He So Good?
Emil Zátopek is known for his hard working nature, rough and tricky training methods. He always pushed himself through difficult and exhausting training routines for him to get the greatest out of himself. He was nicknamed “Bouncing Czech” and “Czech Locomotive” for his amazing abilities to perform constantly without fail in the track. Zátopek is also known for his distinctive and unique running style – his facial expression while running and his posture.
What You May No Know
- In 1956, after recovering from a groin injury, he participated in the Melbourne Olympics and finished in the sixth position. He retired from running after that.
- He remained in the army after retiring until 1964 and became colonel later.
- With Zátopek’s training method, it is believed that he repeatedly trained with his wife on his back.
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