Stories from Zatopek

Zatopek told me so many stories, and I asked him many questions. He said that his father was so sad and mad when he took up running. His brother was also sad. He said, "You have cast a slur on our family. The neighbours have seen you running in another village. They are saying such bad things about us." He said that in his own village he didn't practise, because the people criticised him and hated him. So his father was very, very sad.

Then, when he became a champion, his father used to go to all the paper stands and collect the newspapers that had his picture. He kept album after album, only with Zatopek's pictures. When friends and relatives came, he would show them the albums, even before they asked anything about his son. Before that, his father was dead against his running. But when the neighbours started appreciating him, his father used to get much more joy from Zatopek's running than he himself got. This happened in my case also. When I used to stand first, my brother Mantu would get much more joy than I got.

When I asked Zatopek about his timing for one hundred, two hundred and four hundred metros, to verify what I had read in the book, he told me the timing. Believe it or not, my timing was better than his timing. But I didn't tell him that. Of course, I was a sprinter and Zatopek was a middle-distance and long-distance runner.