'Today we die a little' – writing the story of Emil Zátopek

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Richard Askwith talks about the difficulty and the joy of writing a biography of one of the greatest runners of all time, from grappling with the legends to capturing the spirit of a truly unique man

I think of Zátopek as the patron saint of runners. He didn’t just revolutionise his sport – he reinvented it. He rewrote the record books and redrew the boundaries of endurance, redefining the whole idea of what was humanly possible. No one else, before or since, has domina…