PRAGUE (Reuters) – The triumphs of Czech great Emil Zatopek will be celebrated in Rio de Janeiro with dozens of pairs of electric-powered life-sized legs created by artist David Cerny.
The long-distance runner is best known for his three gold medals at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, including one for the marathon which he ran there for the first time in his life.
The flesh-colored legs are all wearing running shorts and black boots in a reference to Zatopek’s training regime. They are fixed to walls or suspended from ceilings from the waist, moving at the rate of about one step per second.
Dubbed the “Czech Locomotive”, Zatopek, who died in 2000, is the main symbol of the Czech Olympic Committee for the Rio Games, which open on Aug. 5. Czech jerseys and promotional material feature a cartoon image of a runner based on Zatopek’s own drawings.
“Some of the legs will be at the Czech Olympic house and we want to install others on walls around the city,” Cerny said at a Prague Olympic fan zone, where some of the legs are already on display. “It will be a bit of a guerrilla action.”
For London 2012, Cerny made a red double-decker bus that performed push-ups with giant mechanical arms that was displayed in the capital during the Games there.
Cerny triggered an international furor in 2009 when he displayed Entropa, a sculpture poking fun at stereotypes about each of the then 27 European Union member countries, in an EU building in Brussels.
He is also known for painting a Soviet tank monument pink in 1991, and for a number of works around Prague, including the nearly 40-tonne metal head of writer Franz Kafka which consists of 42 independently rotating layers.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Alison Williams)