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1952: Zatopek wins gold at Helsinki
Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia has won the 10,000 metre race one day after the 15th Olympic Games opened at Helsinki, Finland.

The 30-year-old Czech took the lead from the start followed in close second by Alain Mimoun of France.

Soon Zatopek unleashed an extra reserve of energy surging ahead of the other runners and only Mimoun could keep up with him.

But on the 21st lap, Mimoun was left nearly half a lap behind as Zatopek, running with his characteristic pained facial expression and flailing arms, sped to the finish line.

His winning time of 29 minutes, 17 seconds broke the Olympic record he had set in London in 1948 by more than 40 seconds. That year he also won a silver in the 5,000 metres.

Flying Finn

Zatopek's 10,000 metre world record still stands at 29 minutes two seconds which he achieved in Finland two years ago.

The Czech has set a fine pace for an Olympic Games that began smoothly with the opening ceremony yesterday.

The famous Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, known as the Flying Finn and now 55, carried the torch into the Olympic Stadium at Helsinki to enthusiastic applause from the 70,000 spectators.

Then 67 nations' teams paraded their flags.

They included several new countries, among them least the USSR, attending the Olympics for the first time.

Their athletes have been housed in separate accommodation from the rest of the world prompting fears that politics may sully an event that is meant to unite the world in a show of peace.

Three days ago, Nationalist China announced it was withdrawing from the Games because the International Olympic Committee had decided to allow both Communist and Nationalist Chinese sportsmen and women to compete.

Earlier the IOC had voted to accept all Chinese athletes on the grounds that the Olympics should be open to people from all over the world.

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Emil Zatopek
Czechoslovakia's Emil Zatopek broke the Olympic record for the 10,000 metres



In Context
Emil Zatopek, nicknamed "the Czech locomotive", continued to dominate Helsinki.

Within eight days he had won three golds - for the 10,000m, 5,000m and the marathon - a feat never achieved before or since in history of Olympic track and field.

What was more remarkable was that he had never run a marathon before Helsinki and took it in an Olympic record time of 2hrs 23mins 03.2secs.

The crowd of nearly 70,000 shouted "Zatopek! Zatopek!" when he won and he was carried aloft by the Jamaican relay team to his wife, Dana, also an athlete who had won a gold for the javelin throw a few days before.

Four years later in Melbourne, he ran the marathon just six weeks after a hernia operation and finished sixth behind France's Alain Mimoun who finally got the gold he had been longing for.

1952 saw the USSR enter the Olympic Games for the first time. The Soviet women gymnasts won the team competition, setting a trend for the next 40 years.

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