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Athletics

Finally The Javelin Legend, Former Record Holder And Olympic Champion Zatopkova Have Been Laid To Rest

The Czech Olumpics Champion and Javelin legend, Dana Zatopkova’s ashes have been laid to rest alongside her husband Emil Zátopek at a folk park close to St Anne’s Church in Czech town Rožnov pod Radhoštěm.

Zátopková died in March at the age of 97 but the COVID-19 pandemic had made it impossible for a public tribute to be held.

Zátopková had always wished to be interred alongside her husband who died in the year 2000.

Zátopková won javelin gold at the Helsinki Olympics within an hour of her husband’s victory in the 5,000 metres in a Games where he also won the 10,000m and the marathon in an unprecedented treble.

Ludvík Daněk, the 1972 Olympic discus champion, and ski jump gold medallist Jiří Raška also have their last resting place in the gardens.

In a poignant ceremony held on a sunlit afternoon the flags of the Czech Olympic Committee and photographs of Zátopková in her heyday were on display alongside the urn.

Dulcimer melodies by Jaroslav Čech were performed at the service. His music had been her particular favourite.

Zátopková also set a world record, won silver at the Rome 1960 Olympics and two European Championships.

Triple Olympic javelin champion Jan Železný was among those to receive her guidance as a thrower.

“Her importance in Czech sport is underestimated because she lived in the shadow of Emil,” he said. 

“The Czech Republic does not often produce such extraordinary personalities.

“Dana was an absolutely exceptional person, not only from a sports point of view, but also from a human point of view, I really liked her.

“Like everyone involved with athletics and javelin. 

“We all miss her smile.”

The 1983 world discus champion Imrich Bugár shed tears for an old friend at the event.  

“She was still laughing, she was always in a good mood. 

“When for example, I wasn’t, she would say ‘Come on, Bug, we’ll have some wine and it’ll be fine again.'”

Jarmila Kratochvílová, the 1983 world 400m and 800m gold medallist, said: “She accomplished an awful lot of things not only in sport, but also in life. 

“Dana was a javelin thrower, today our javelin is at a very decent level. 

“I think that Dana was able to give good advice to many throwers during her life.”

The ceremony was attended by many personalities from Czech sport including Olympic champions from other disciplines such as cyclist Jiří Daler and canoeist Martin Doktor.

Zátopková was born on September 19 1922, the very same day as her husband. 


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