Emil Zatopek (b. Kopřivnice, September 19, 1922 - d. Prague, November 22, 2000) was a Czech athlete and Olympic gold medalist in long distance running. Zatopek was the first athlete to break the 29 minute barrier in the 10,000 meter run (in 1954). Three years earlier, in 1951, he had broken the hour for running 20 kilometers.
He is best known, however, for his amazing feat in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki of winning three gold medals in running. He won gold for the 5,000 meter and the 10,000 meter run, but his final medal came when he decided at the last minute to compete in the marathon event for the first time in his life and won. In each event, he also broke Olympic records.
Zátopek was known for panting heavily whenever he ran, and this became his symbol. He was often called the "Czech Locomotive" as a result.
A hero in his native country, Zátopek was an influential figure in the Communist Party. However, he supported the party's democratic wing, and after the Prague Spring, he was removed from all important positions and forced to work in a uranium mine as punishment.
His wife Dana Zátopková (née Ingrová, born in Karviná-Fryštát, September 19, 1922, exactly the same day as her husband) was an outstanding athlete in her own right in throwing the javelin. She won the gold medal for javelin in the 1952 Olympics, and the silver medal in the 1960 Olympics.