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23-1-2020, 23:07 UTC

Jörg Teuschl about Emil Zátopek ...
Even at an advanced age, the Czech sportsman who has made the biggest impression on me is Emil Zátopek. Why?
When I was a small boy we finally saw footage of the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 several weeks after the amazing games were actually held, at the cinema in our village. The star we most admired was Emil Zátopek, who they called the Prague Locomotive. We were really impressed by the way, his face twisted with pain and with his tongue hanging out, he overcame his adversaries, and how every competitor tried to achieve victory with a frightful grimace, just like Zátopek.
I never thought that I myself would see this miraculous runner live. But three years later when a new stadium in Karlsruhe was officially opened with an athletics meeting the star was Emil Zátopek, who came first in the long distance race with ease. The prize for the winner was the latest model of moped. The famous sportsman was not exactly sure of how to work what was then new technology, so they showed him how and off he set on a lap of honour. To this day I do not know if Zátopek couldn’t stop or simply didn’t want to stop, but in any case the stadium erupted in cheers as he made lap after lap of the circuit. In the end they had to send people out to stop the circling runner; after all, they had a schedule to stick to. To the rapturous applause of 50,000 spectators they led the likable and puckish athlete off the track.
I will never forget Emil Zátopek’s brilliant successes and that wonderful story from the stadium in Karlsruhe. To this day I have the greatest respect for both his incredible attributes as a runner and his modest demeanour.