Dana Zátopková

* 1922  †︎ 2020

  • “The first Olympics I could participate in, were held in London and in 1948. Emil won a golden medal for ten kilometres running. Well and I was a complete beginner and ended up seventh, which was not too bad at all, when you consider the whole world competing there. Well and that was such an experience, I was thrilled as the fame around it, the stadium full of people, over hundred thousand people, the whole ceremony with pigeons, the kind and queen at the opening night; it was just wonderful and left a great impression on me. And the overall meeting of the people from all over the world, that was amazing. For me, an ordinary girl from the village, it was an amazing experience. I also flew an airplane for the first time. I came back all excited telling myself I would try to be better at the next Olympics, to be seen more, as I was a bit down by the seventh place I took. I knew for certain that I had enough strength to achieve better results.”

  • „The next Olympics were held in Helsinki in 1952 and I was already a pretty good javelinist. I was the third in the world statistics and I knew quite a bit about javelin and trained properly. Well and Emil, of course he was the star amongst long-distance runners and was the favourite number one at the Helsinki Olympics. Well and there we had a good timing, we had a kind of a hat-trick. He won three golden medals, five and ten kilometres and the marathon, and I won the javelin. So we brought four golds together. And of course, we were thrilled with joy; we were terribly satisfied and happy, I must say.”

  • “There were athletics exams and by pure luck I got together in the same room with our best javelinist at the time, which was Soňa Burianová. And she was the only one, who applied for javelin exam at the term as she could throw it well. And she slept in my room. So she began to encourage me. ,Please could you try and throw javelin with me too.‘ As it had to be an official competition. Well I told her I was no good during the lessons and felt no passion about it, I did not have a clue. But in the end she managed to talk me into it, so I signed up for her. I did it only for her. I went regretting it right the moment, as I didn’t know the skills, and I held javelin in my hand only for the second time in my life. But maybe due to the fact I underestimated myself, I put a real effort into the throw and my hand was pretty strong from playing handball, I won the competition; I actually beat her. She was quite angry with me, as she said: ,You never said you can really throw javelin.‘ And I replied: ,I really don’t, it happened by pure luck.´”

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    Praha 7, 19.04.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 59:01
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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I´ve never imagined I´d throw javelin

Dana Zátopková
Dana Zátopková
photo: Magdaléna Němcová

Dana Zátopková, née Ingrová, is a javelin thrower and the Czech Olympic winner. She was born on 19 September, 1922 in Karviná. She spent her childhood in Uherské Hradiště. Since early age she enjoyed doing sports. For eight years she was the captain of the handball team, which won the Czech master ship. Accidentally she started throwing javelin, which became her life-long love. During the athletic competition she met Emil Zátopek and they fell in love. They considered a fatal matter they were born on the same day, month and year. In 1952 at the Helsinki Olympics she won the golden medal; her husband got three golds at the same Olympics. Amongst her other sports success there is a winning at the European master ships in Bern and Stockholm. At the Rome Olympics in 1960, she was already 38 let and won a silver medal. After finishing her sports carrier she trained young athletes for twenty years. In 2016 her memoir book called Our life under the five circles was published.