In 1956 Zatopek underwent an unfortunate hernia operation, which prevented him from running for three months during the summer. Still, at the age of 34, the immortal Zatopek placed sixth in the Melbourne Olympic Marathon. Although most runners would have considered this an excellent performance, Zatopek candidly acknowledged his failure with a smile: "I realised I was licked at the half way point. I started confident that I could make a good race of it, but I suddenly realised about all that was left was to go out like a champion. That was when I decided it was no use breaking my neck with any more speed and risk collapse … This was my last race."