Emil Zatopek – Greatest Runner of All Time
Emil Zatopek was declared Greatest Runner of All Time by Runner’s World Magazine in 2013. The Czechoslovakian is one, if not THE, greatest runners of 20th century. The Locomotive became a legend after he managed to win the 5,000, the 10,000 and the marathon at 1954 Olympic Games in Helsinki. Zatopek is also part of IAAF Hall of Fame.
The Czech Locomotive, Emil Zatopek, dominated long distance running from 1948 until 1954, a period in which he won 38 consecutive 10,000 meters races (11 in 1949 alone). Zatopek set 18 world records over various distances. The Czech become a legend of athletics after he managed to set records on every distance between 5,000 meters to 30,000 meters. Also, the Greatest Runner of All Time won four Olympic gold medals and one silver. He was a real record breaker and a model for the coming generations, being the first man to run 10,ooo meters race under 29 minutes and the first athlete ever to cover more than 20,000 meters in one hour.
Emil Zatopek was born in Czechoslovakia in 1922. His father was a modest carpenter, so young Emil decided to leave his family at the age of 16 and start working in a Bata Shoe Factory. Factory’s sports coach imposed to Zatopek to participate in Bata 1,500 meters race, despite the fact that Emil said that he is not fit. However, Emil Zatopek finished second out of 100 participants. This was the moment when the Greatest Runner of All Time discovered his appetite for running. Zatopek joined the local athletic club and started to develop his own training program, inspired after the the training of the legendary long distance runner Paavo Nurmi. The Locomotive started to develop his hard training routines that transformed him into a legend. The Czech was the first athlete to develop the idea of cross-training, combining strength exercises, sprints and long distance running. The greatest runner of all time was running 40 x 400 m races or 50 x 200 m races with a 2 minutes break in one training session, in order to improve his endurance and speed (a training scheme that he brought from Nurmi). This kind of training schemes were crucial for Emil Zatopek, who wanted to develop speed and then repeat it over a long distance. Also, another example of Zatopek’s brutally tough training method was to run in the woods during snowy winters wearing army boots.
Emil broke Czech records in 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 meters in 1944. He participated in 1946 European Championships, finishing fifth in 5,000 meters race, breaking his own Czech record of 14:50.2, crossing the finish line after 14:25.8. Emil Zatopek participated in austerity 1948 London Olympics and won 10 km race (his second race at that distance) and finished second in 5 km race.
The greatest runner of all time was the first athlete to run more than 20 km in one hour (20,052 meters) in 1951. That was an amazing race, in which he broke another four world records. What is more breathtaking was his pace constance, his 2 intermediary 10,000 meters times were: 29:53 minutes and 29:58 minutes.
Emil Zatopek achieved one of the greatest Olympic feats of all time, being the only athlete ever to win the 5,000, the 10,000 and the marathon race during the same Olympic event. It was an incredible feature because 2 months prior to the Olympics, the doctors advised him not to participate because of an infected gland. Emil ignored doctors’ warning and achieved the impossible in a span of 8 days. Moreover, he set new Olympic records in all three events. The final lap in 5,000 meters race was an epic one, Zatopek being forth and in a ferocious effort (57.9 seconds) managed to finish first in front of his friend Alain Mimoun. Furthermore, the Locomotive had not run any marathon before the 1952 Olympics. However, the greatest runner of all time won with a 2 minutes margin and established a new world record.
By the end of 1953, Emil Zatopek
held 8 world records – the only man in history to hold so many records in the same time. Despite criticizing his odd running style, worldwide specialists agreed that the Locomotive was the greatest runner of all time. With an agonizing facial expression, Zatopek was throwing all his resources into running. This was the story of the legendary Locomotive, Emil Zatopek
, a icon for the following generations and a man who demonstrated that nothing is impossible.