Thursday, October 02, 2008

I am not talented enough to run and smile at the same time

I am fairly teary-eyed with inspiration reading Za-to-pek Za-to-pek Za-to-pek.
The title of this post is a quote from Emil Zatopek, who replied thus when asked why he grimaced when he raced.

The book is a somehwhat dry, though fawning account of an obvious Zatopek fan, Bob Phillips.
The book discuss Emil Zatopek's rise to a status of pre-eminence in World Athletics, though Zatopek raced predominantly in Europe which was the hub for world athletics till the early 60s. In fact, till Roger Bannister broke the mile record, the leading runners of the times were either mostly Swedish or Finnish. The book also discusses Hagg and Andersson, the legendary Scandinavian rivals (also mentioned in The Perfect Distance), as well as other great athletes of the age, not least of which was Emil's wife, Dana, herself no ordinary woman, having made 4 Olympics in a row. The book has described in detail most people Emil competed against including complete list of marathoners at Helsinki, etc. This included 2 Pakistanis and an Indian, Surat Singh!

The book discusses Emil, the athlete and his tremendous, nearly inhuman training methods which got him where he was. It also discusses Emil's wide fan base and his contribution to athletics by virtue of his sharing his training methods and race plans, including during the race or at the start of the race! I guess only Haile (and of course Paul Tergat) come close to being counted in the same league, on both performance and humility.

Now for some of the teary-eyed part: Emil spent some time labouring under the Communist regime after a revolt was rebuffed in 1968, serving with a geological survey team!!! And this was the fate of a national hero who almost single-handedly raised the profile of the Czech nation in world sport.

Spoiler Alert:

However the story does have a happy ending, since Emil was back in the public eye from 1992. He passed away in 2000. RIP

This will be enough inspiration for a personal best atleast and should be of great use over the next year. Thanks to B, for the book.

p.s. I liked the quote mostly because I look awkward too when I run. I am not world class, but hey, I can always say that my style sucks anyways and I am not alone :)

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Blogger Bhasker Sharma said...

Hi D

Nice succint posts on both the books. Hope to try and read Za-to-pek.. again sometime soon..


10/05/2008 7:19 AM  

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