Emil Zátopek of Czechoslovakia was a supreme distance runner whose rugged training regimen was rewarded with unprecedented success. At the 1948 Olympics he won the gold medal in the 10,000 metres and finished second in the 5,000 metres. At Helsinki in 1952 he produced one of the greatest performances in distance running history, when he won the 5,000 metres, successfully defended his 10,000 metres title and then took his third gold medal in his first-ever marathon race to complete a “triple” that remains unique in Olympic history. Zátopek closed his Olympic career four years later when he placed 6th in the marathon in Melbourne, running only a few weeks after undergoing hernia surgery. At the European Championships he finished fifth in the 5,000 metres (1946) and won gold in the 5,000 metres (1950) and 10,000 metres (1950, 1954) and bronze in the 5,000 metres (1954). Between 1949 and 1954, he set 18 world records at every distance from 5,000 metres to 30,000 metres, a remarkable display of versatility at the very highest level. He was the first great distance runner to popularize the concept of interval training and his training efforts were legendary. His wife, Dana (né Ingrová), was the Olympic gold medalist in the javelin in 1952.
Personal Bests: 5000 – 13:57.0 (1954); 10000 – 28:54.2 (1954); Mar – 2-23:04 (1952).