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Words by Jan Novák

Art by Jaromír 99

Hardback, 200 pp, £14.99

Emil Zátopek is arguably the greatest Olympic champion of all time. The Czech runner’s three gold medals at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics (5,000m, 10,000m and marathon) have never been matched. His success as a runner made him a national hero, but as a public figure, outspoken and unafraid to take a stand, he was equally impressive. Even before the Helsinki Games, Zátopek had scored a remarkable victory, successfully pressuring the Communist regime to allow his colleague Stanislav Jungwirth, a political outcast, to compete.

In Zátopek, Jan Novák and Jaromír 99 trace the extraordinary life and times of the great Olympian, from his first meeting with Dana, the love of his life, to the victories that would ensure his lasting legacy.

Jaromír 99

Jaromír 99, whose real name is Jaromír Švejdík, divides his time between the worlds of music and comics. He is well-known as a member of the groups Priessnitz and Umakart, and as the artist behind the Alois Nebel (2003) trilogy. He also worked as a co-screenwriter and artist on its film adaptation (2011), which was awarded Best Animated Film by the European Film Academy. He won a Muriel Award for his comic strip Bomber (2007) and he adapted Kafka’s The Castle (2013) as a graphic novel for SelfMadeHero, which was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Award. Jaromír 99 lives and works in Prague.

Jan Novák

Jan Novák is a leading Czech writer and documentary maker. In the years 1970‑2008, he lived in Chicago, where he attended the University of Chicago and where his books The Willys Dream Kit (1985) and Commies, Crooks, Gypsies, Spooks & Poets (1995) won the Carl Sandburg Prize for Chicago’s book of the year. He also co-authored The Turnaround (1994), Miloš Forman’s autobiography. Novák is now resident once more in the Czech Republic. His novel So Far, So Good was the Magnesia Litera Awards Book of the Year 2005, and in 2020 he published a controversial literary biography, entitled Kundera, His Czech Life and Times. Zátopek is his debut work in the field of graphic novels.


"With an absorbing and upbeat narrative, the book is an easy-to-read story of a remarkable athlete and inspiring individual."
— Morning Star
"For a career spanning biography, Novák and Jaromír 99 hit the right notes."
— Slings And Arrows
"Gift for athletics fans"
— World of Athletics