2017 was not a particularly notable year for Czech sport. However, there were some outstanding individual successes, with Barbora Špotáková winning javelin gold at the World Athletics Championships and Karolína Plíšková becoming the country’s first women’s tennis number one in decades.
Ten years after becoming world champion in the javelin for the first time, Barbora Špotáková regained that crown in August at the age of 36. What’s more, Špotáková earned her gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in London, at the same venue where she took the second of her two Olympic golds five years previously. The Czechs confirmed their javelin superpower status in the UK capital, with Jakub Vadlejch taking silver and Petr Frydrych earning bronze in the men’s competition. Both are trained by the greatest ever male athlete in the discipline, Jan Železný.
Karolína Plíšková became the world women’s tennis number one in July, two months after turning 25. She was only the second woman born in this country to achieve this accolade, after the all-time legend Martina Navrátilová. Otherwise Plíšková’s greatest success in 2017 was reaching the semi-finals of the Paris Open for the first time. Though a Grand Slam triumph still eludes her, she picked up three WTA titles this year for a career total of nine. Plíšková is now ranked fourth in the world.
Petra Kvitová, a previous Czech number one, staged a remarkable comeback this year. Five months after sustaining horrific injuries to her fingers in a knife attack at her home, the 27-year-old was back in action on the clay courts of the French Open in May. And while Kvitová didn’t last long in Paris, she did win her 20th title in Birmingham the following month.
The glamour of men’s tennis came to Prague in September with the first ever edition of the Laver Cup, in which a European team take on a rest of the world selection. Roger Federer won it for the Europeans (including Czech Tomáš Berdych) with a nail-biting tie-break victory over Team World’s Nick Kyrgios. Unfortunately for local fans, the Czech capital was serving as a one-off host of the glitzy event.
The Czech national soccer team had a year to forget, missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. With holders Germany in their group, the Czechs’ best bet was to try to come second. However, they lost that berth in the playoffs to Northern Ireland, who beat them in Belfast in September. Karel Jarolím, who only took over in summer 2016, has been retained as manager.
Slavia Prague lifted their first domestic football league title in eight years in May. The Chinese-owned club finished two points ahead of Viktoria Plzeň, who had won the championship in three of the previous six seasons. Plzeň currently look set to add to that tally: They went into the winter break a full 14 points ahead of the defending champions.
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