There are two theories as to why Emil Zatopek was called ‘The Czech Locomotive’. One suggests it was because he trained so hard and methodically. The other theory, not quite so flattering, claims it was because he would pant and wheeze so much & looked visibly shattered during a race. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been too bothered if the latter were true. Zatopek had little to prove or feel defensive about. His athletic achievements were huge & are still mostly unequalled.
Born in 1922 in Czechoslovakia, Zatopek won his first Olympic Gold for the 10,000 m at the 1948 London Olympics. Not content with one Olympic Gold medal, Zatopek returned to the Olympics at Helsinki in 1952 to take three more there. He won the 5,000m, the 10,000m and won the first marathon he had ever run by two and a half minutes, achieving all this in an eight day period. Just in case that was not enough to ensure he would be remembered as one of the world’s greatest long distance runners, he set eighteen world records over various distances and won 38 consecutive 10,000 m races between 1948 and 1954. Officially not slow.