"A gradual reduction in training load in the period leading up to competition. Tapering is particularly important for those preparing for endurance events. It gives the body an opportunity to recover fully from months of heavy training and to adapt to increased demands. There are many examples of athletes who performed exceptionally well after they were forced to rest against their wishes. One of the most famous was Emil Zatopek who was training very intensively for the 1950 European Games when he became ill and had to stay in hospital for two weeks. He came out just 2 days before he was due to compete in the 10 000 metres. He won the race convincingly by more than one lap. He went on to complete the ‘double’ by winning the 5000 metres. Zatopek's performances demonstrated the benefits of tapering so clearly that their effects are sometimes called the ‘Zatopek phenomenon’"