10 DEC 1999 General News

Zatopek on the mend after operation


AFP

9 December 1999 – Prague - Legendary Czech athlete Emil Zatopek has returned home after making a partial recovery from a leg operation, Czech Olympic Committee president Milan Jirasek told AFP Thursday.

Zatopek, the quadruple Olympic champion, underwent the operation at the beginning of October and the 77-year-old's condition has slowly improved.

Zatopek needed surgery following a fall at his home on October 7 and needed an artificial component inserted in his femur.

"A week after the operation he was delirious and recognised no-one except his wife Dana," said Jirasek, also head of the orthopaedic department of the Prague-Stresovice military hospital where Zatopek was treated.

Zatopek has suffered several strokes as well as severe depression, Jirasek added, but the doctor said that his physical improvement had notably improved since he was returned home.

Mrs Zatopek (the 1952 Olympic javelin champion) and a nurse are helping to rehabilitate Zatopek, Jirasek added.

Nicknamed "The Czech Locomotive", Zatopek - still his country's most famous sportsman - won four gold medals at the 1948 games in London (10,000m) and at Helsinki in 1952 (5,000m, 10,000m and marathon).

Three-times European champion, Zatopek set 18 world records and won 38 10,000m races in a row between 1948 and 1954.

Last June he was elected Olympic champion of the century by a jury of experts and sports journalists in his home country.