Google Doodle celebrates Czechoslovak Olympians on shared 100th birthday

An animated doodle, featuring Emil Zátopek and Dana Zátopková can be seen in five countries. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.09.2022 12:30:00 (updated on 19.09.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today’s Google Doodle honors Czechoslovak athletes Emil Zátopek and Dana Zátopková, both of whom were born on Sept. 19, 1922, and would have been 100 years old today. The Doodle is an image on the front page of Google that changes every day and links to more information.

Doodles are sometimes visible worldwide, but the current Doodle honoring the Zátopeks can only be seen in Czechia, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Iceland.

“In the 1952 Olympics, Dana Zátopková won a gold medal in the women's javelin throw one hour after her husband, Emil Zátopek, won the men's 5,000-meter run. Today's Doodle celebrates the Czech power couple of track and field’s shared 100th Birthday! This Doodle was created by Prague-based guest artists Ilona Polanski (illustration) and Aliona Sasková (animation),” Google said on its dedicated Doodles page.

Google Doodle for Emil Zátopek and Dana Zátopková. Photo: Google.
Google Doodle for Emil Zátopek and Dana Zátopková. Photo: Google.

Zátopková (née Ingrová), grew up in Karviná. As a college handball player, she led the Czechoslovak handball team to a national title. She later qualified for the 1948 London Olympic Games with a 40-meter javelin throw.

Emil Zátopek worked at a shoe factory in Zlín. He trained as a runner in the Czech army and achieved fame when he rode a bicycle from Prague to Berlin to win a 5,000-meter race in an Allied Occupation meet.

They met when Emil congratulated Dana on qualifying for the 1948 Olympics and discovered they had the same birthday. Shortly after that Olympics, held in London, the couple married.

“Dana and Emil made history at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. Emil won the gold medal in 5,000 meter, 10,000 meter and the marathon – his first ever – breaking the Olympic record in all three races,” Google said.

“Dana not only placed first and set an Olympic record for the javelin throw but became the first Czech woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Due to the couple’s performance that year, Czechoslovakia took home more gold medals than any country besides the United States,” Google said, adding that the couple broke a combined 35 world records.

Both remained active in sports and promoted the benefits of sports throughout their lives. Emil Zátopek passed away in 2000 at age 78 and Dana Zátopková followed in 2020 at age 97.

A biopic about the runner called “Zátopek” was released in 2021. It won the audience award at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and earned eight Czech Lions, the local equivalent of the Oscar.

In the past, Google used doodles to honor Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved Czech Jewish children before the start of World War II, as well as events like local elections, anniversaries such as Prague's Astronomical Clock and the Velvet Revolution, and cultural figures such as Bedřich Smetana and contact lens inventor Otto Wichterle.  

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