A small ceremony to bid farewell to Dana Zátopková included cymbalo music and her favourite flowers

A small circle of mourners and friends bade farewell to Olympic champion, Dana Zátopková, one of the most famous sporting personalities in Czech sporting history, at a small ceremony with cymbalo music, the Moravian songs she loved, and a guard of honour. The ceremony took place at the Strašnice Crematorium and due to the current measures attendance was limited to just a few mourners, but it was broadcast live on Czech Television.

“Dana Zátopková was the soul of not just the Czech Olympians Club, but also the Czech Olympic Committee as a whole. We will miss her greatly. I would like to thank everyone who looked after and supported her,” said Jiří Kejval, President of the Czech Olympic Committee.

The Olympic champion at Helsinki 1952 and silver medallist at Rome 1960 died at the age of 97 in the early morning of Friday 13th March. Until the end she radiated energy and good humour. “I had a good life. I am fortunate that I was able to live my life as I wanted to,” said sports commentator Štěpán Škorpil quoting her words. He went on to highlight the career of the double European champion and her exceptional personality.

Former athlete and another of Dana Zátopková’s close friends, František Fojt, then spoke of her coaching career and skills. He also mentioned that until the final years of her life she devoted time to passing on her experience to young athletes. “Dana was the heart and soul of athletics and she dedicated her whole life to this sport.”

The ceremonial hall was decorated with the yellow flowers that Dana loved. A range of institutions paid tribute to her and there was also a wreath from Czech President Miloš Zeman. The guard of honour over the coffin comprised ceremonial soldiers based in Prague. Her favourite Moravian songs were played for the holder of the Olympic Order by the Vojenský umělecký soubor Ondráš (Ondráš Military Art Ensemble).

A javelin stand was prominently placed holding the broom that Emil Zátopek made for his wife, at her request, from her gold winning Olympic javelin. At Helsinki 1952 they both triumphed on the same day and created one of the most famous sporting couples in the world. “Dana Zátopková was an outstanding woman. She motivated generations of athletes and, together with Emil, she is written prominently in the history of world athletics. Their names will always shine down on the world of athletics,” said Libor Varhaník, President of the Czech Athletics Federation.

The service was attended by several Olympic medallists and close friends of Dana Zátopková, including Jarmila Kratochvílová. Also present was Olympic champion Milan Hnilička, President of the National Sports Agency. ”Dana would have wanted people to remember her with happiness and not sadness,” said Colonel Jaroslav Priščák, head of ASC Dukla. Oldřich Svojanovský, President of the Czech Olympians Club, added: “Dana would deserve a hall full of mourners, but that is simply not possible at the moment. When the pandemic comes to an end and we can gather in large numbers there will be a mass at the Břevnov Monastery. Then in September during the Run Through the Native Countryside of Emil Zátopek we plan to lay Dana’s ashes to rest next to Emil in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm.“

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