A graphic novel about the life of one of the most famous Czech athletes, Emil Zátopek, considered by many to be the greatest runner of all time.
Zátopek used to say that the threshold of pain and suffering is what separates the boys from the men. Pushing the limits of the body is what made him a phenomenal runner and one of the most famous athletes. When he won the 10km race at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and finished second on the 5km track, he didn’t consider it a great achievement. At the next Olympics in Helsinki he won three gold medals and became a legend, but he also achieved a more important victory — he stood up against the Communist regime by insisting that his colleague, Stanislav Jungwirth, who was originally banned from travelling to Helsinki for political reasons, be allowed to compete. This graphic novel written by Jan Novák and illustrated by Jaromír 99 looks at Zátopek’s greatest achievements as well as his relationship with the love of his life, Dana Zátopková.
“The expressiveness of the sharply chiseled faces and tense muscles captures the pain and effort which sport and life require. The comics portrays Zátopek as a hero and a role-model and also hints at his weaknesses. A man who is successful due to his will but is simultaneously walking on a tightrope above an abyss where his Czech cunning helps him keep his balance”
— Kateřina Čopjaková, Respekt
“Zátopek is one of this year’s best comics”
— Anna Křivánková, H7O
“[Zátopek] will be read in a single breath even by those whose sporting knowledge ends with the difference between a plimsoll and a running shoe. Through one specific example, it testifies to the perverse conditions that held sway in this country in the 1950s and the strength of a few individuals who managed to defy them.”
— Ondřej Bezr, MF Dnes
Selected published translations (4)