Olympic Champion Dana Zatopkova Has Died Aged 97
Athlete Dana Zatopkova passed away on March 13th. She had a successful javelin career, winning Olympic medals and European championships and breaking the javelin world record. She was also a decorated Czech citizen, a recipient of the Medal of Merit and the Olympic Order. Photo credit: Pribehy nasich sousedu.
Brno / Czech Rep., Mar 14 (BD) – Dana Zatopkova was a respected athlete and citizen, an Olympic gold medalist in javelin and winner of multiple European championship titles. She was also a member of the Women’s Committee of the International Athletic Association Federation, and a recipient of the Olympic Order and the Medal of Merit. She passed away on March 13th at the age of 97.
Dana Zatopkova, née Ingrova, was the niece of Sergej Ingr, Czechsolovak Legionnaire and later the Minister of National Defense of the wartime Government-in-exile in London. She was born in Karvina on September 19th, 1922, and spent her childhood and adolescence in Uherske Hradiste, Slovacko, having moved there at the age of six. Zatopkova started playing handball during her studies at grammar school, later switching to athletics. At an athletics meeting in 1948, before the Olympics, she met her future husband Emil Zatopek, also a future Olympic champion.
In 1946, Zatopkova started competing in the javelin, and became the national champion in the same year. Two years later, she represented Czechoslovakia at the Olympic Games in London, where she finished 7th. Shortly after the games, she married Emil Zatopek on their shared birthday.
At the following Olympics in Helsinki, Zatopkova broke the Olympic record with her first throw, and won the gold medal. Her husband Emil won gold in the 5,000 metres on the same day.
In the years that followed, Zatopkova went on to win two European championship titles in 1954 and 1958, break the world record in 1958 aged 35 (still the record for the oldest person to break an outdoor athletics world record) and win a silver medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960. She was the Czechoslovak national champion thirteen times before her retirement in 1962.
After her retirement from competitive athletics, Zatopkova devoted herself to coaching. In 1964, she became the head coach for throwing disciplines at the Czechoslovak Union of Physical Education and Sport. She was also a member of the Women’s Committee of the International Association of Athletics Federation for twelve years, and was awarded the Olympic Order in 1988, and the Medal of Merit in 2003.