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Zatopek almost did not go to Helsinki. One of his friends and teammates was a 1,500-meter runner whose position on the team Running with the Legends 16 was endangered because his father had fallen into disfavor with Czech authorities. Zatopek, the star of the Olympic squad, was told to go ahead and fly to Helsinki, and that this runner would follow later. But Zatopek did not budge, saying he would not get on the plane unless his teammate was with him. After that, the runner was allowed to travel with the team.

Zatopek laughs. ' And I started to run [he jumps out of his chair, pumping his arms vigorously], and ran world record. 2 seconds off Heino's mark, which had stood since 1944. Heino had been the fifth Finn since 1921 to hold the record in an unbroken streak. Zatopek, with this win in Ostrava, became the first non-Finn since Frenchman Jean Bouin's 30:58 in 1911 to hold the 10,000-meter record. The Finnish people wanted their champion to have a chance for revenge, and Heino, with the weight of his country and the ghosts of champions past on his back, vowed to reclaim the record.

I liked it and found it very interesting. " The work, he said, was good for "producing muscle; I ate more, and had more static power. " After retirement, Zatopek was still out of favor with the government. For many years, the International Amateur Athletic Federation (lAAF) tried to honor him, but their requests for Zatopek to come and receive his award were rebuffed. Finally, in the late 1980s, lAAF president Primo Nebiolo traveled to Prague, where he met Zatopek and gave him his award. Zatopek was rediscovered by the world in 1989, after the Velvet Revolution.

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