Josef Odložil

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Josef Odložil
Josef Odložil 1964.jpg
Josef Odložil, following in red vest, at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo
Personal information
Born 11 November 1938
Otrokovice, Czech Republic
Died 10 September 1993(1993-09-10) (aged 54)
Domašov, Czech Republic
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 70 kg (150 lb)
Sport Athletics
Event(s) 1500 m
Club Dukla Prague
Retired 1969
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)

2000 m – 5:01.2 WR (1965)

1500 m – 3:37.6 NR (1966)

Josef Odložil (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjozɛf ˈodloʒɪl]; 11 November 1938 – 10 September 1993) was a Czech middle-distance runner. He was a national champion many times in the 1960s, but had mixed success at the international level.[1] He won the Silver medal in the 1964 Olympics at 1500 meters.

Running career[edit]

An avid runner since early age, Odložil began training with a coach at a military school in Bratislava.[2] At his first major competition, the 1962 European Athletics Championships in Belgrade, Odložil was eliminated in the 800 metres semi-final. Two years later he ran 1500 metres at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Peter Snell easily won the final, but Odložil managed to get silver ahead of John Davies. In 1965 Odložil set a new world record on 2000 m (5:01,2). The 1966 European Athletics Championships were disastrous for Odložil as he was eliminated already in the heats. He did better at the 1967 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague, taking silver in the 1500 m, but at the 1968 Olympics finished only eighth in the 1500 m.[1] Odložil retired in 1969.[2]


After retiring from competitions Odložil, a career military officer, was also forced to retire from the Czechoslovak Army, for political reasons. He turned into coaching, first at Sparta Prague and then at the Institutio Nacional del Deporte in Mexico (1979–1981). In 1989 he was reinstated in the Army, and served there until his death. In 1992–1993 he was commander of UN peacekeepers in Iraq representing Czechoslovakia.[2]

Personal life and death[edit]

At the 1964 Olympics Odložil became a close friend of the winner, Peter Snell, and after the Olympics visited him in New Zealand.[2] Shortly after the 1968 Olympics, Odložil married the famous gymnast Věra Čáslavská. The ceremony, which took place at the Mexico City Cathedral, drew a crowd of thousands.[3] They couple had a son, Martin, and daughter, Radka.[4] They divorced in 1987.[5] On 7 August 1993 Odložil had a quarrel with his 19-year-old son. Martin hit him in the head, which resulted in a prolonged coma and death on 10 September 1993.[2] Due to the incessant media attention Čáslavská fell into depression and was rarely seen in public afterwards.[6] Martin was sentenced to four years of imprisonment for his father's murder, but was granted a pardon by president Václav Havel in 1997, because the degree of fault on his father's death was not well proven.[6][7]

Since 1994 an athletic meeting – Josef Odložil Memorial (Czech: Memoriál Josefa Odložila) is held annually in his memory.


  1. ^ a b Josef Odložil. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 1 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Urbánek, Jaroslav (26 November 2006) Josef Odložil.
  3. ^ Cameron, Rob (3 May 2002). "Czechoslovak sports legend Vera Caslavska celebrates 60th birthday". Czech Radio International. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  4. ^ "Whatever happened to Vera Čáslavská?". Gymnastics Greats. 1999. Retrieved 13 January 2008. 
  5. ^ "Past Olympics Athletes >> Vera Caslavska". ESPN. Agence France-Presse. 2008. 
  6. ^ a b "Caslavska emerges from 10-year seclusion". Agence France-Presse. 4 May 2007. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "PŘÍPAD MARTINA ODLOŽILA [Martin Odložil case]". Šalamoun: Spolek na podporu nezávislé justice v ČR. Retrieved 23 February 2016.