Emil Zatopek

Olympic Person of the Month November 2021

Emil Zátopek is widely recognised as one of the greatest runners in Olympic history. He is best known for winning three gold medals at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 and for pioneering gruelling interval training methods.

Competing for Czechoslovakia at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, Zátopek became the only runner to win the 5,000m, the 10,000m and the marathon at the same Olympic Games. Despite making a last-minute marathon debut, he beat the second placed athlete by 2:01 minutes.

In 1975, Zátopek was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal by the International Olympic Committee in recognition of his athletic achievements and embodiment of the Olympic spirit. In 1989, he was awarded the Olympic Order and in 2012, he was one of the first athletes to be inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame.

His work ethic, innovation, commitment and inner strength serve as an inspiration to athletes across the globe and his training methods continue to influence elite long-distance running today.

Zátopek is celebrated in the Czech Republic with an annual Golden Week, during which three races are held on the same days on which Zátopek won his Olympic gold medals. In 2021, a biographical film entitled “Zátopek” was released, which depicted the Olympic record holder’s sporting career.

Next year, the Czech Olympic Committee will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Zátopek and his wife Dana, who won gold in the javelin at Helsinki in 1952. Emil Zátopek is the European Olympic Academies’ third “Olympic Person of the Month”.

Photo kindly provided by Czech Olympic Committee / Karel Novák

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