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ZATOPEK Emil (1922) Czech Republic / Track and field
He was one of the most famous running champions of all time. Nicknamed "the human locomotive" because he ran races flat out, Zatopek will forever remain one the most popular athletes of the post-war period.Several times champion between 1948 and 56 in the long distance races, he won gold in Helsinki in '52 for the 5000, 10.000 m and the marathon. This was the year when he was at the height of his fame.Zatopek started his Olympic career in 1948 with a gold in the 10 000 m and a silver in the 5000 m.He only met his match in 1956, when, hoping to win the marathon and a fifth gold medal, he was beaten by the Frenchman Alain Mimoun, a man who he had beaten many times before this moment. A real workhorse, he worked in the daytime and studied at night, he put the same amount of energy into training, regularly running more than 30 km per session.Having become a colonel in the Czech army, he was thrown out after having protested against the intervention of Soviet troops in the streets of Prague in 1968. His exclusion continued until 1975, when he joined an administrative department of the Ministry for sports. After a peaceful retirement alongside his wife Dana, he recently died of a brain haemorrhage.


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