27-02-2006

Perennial runner-up Katerina Neumannova finally takes gold in dream end to Olympic career

Katerina Neumannova, photo: CTKKaterina Neumannova, photo: CTK The 20th Winter Olympic Games came to a close with a glitzy ceremony on Sunday evening, and carrying the Czech flag in Turin was the great cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova. At her sixth and last Olympics Neumannova finally took her first gold medal, surging from third place to win the 30 km freestyle on Friday. Thoroughly exhausted, she collapsed just over the line but within seconds was hugging her two-year-old daughter Lucie; for many Czech fans it will have been one of the most moving moments of the Turin games.

Katerina Neumannova, photo: CTKKaterina Neumannova, photo: CTK Here Katerina Neumannova, who is 33, describes how she gave her all in the final Olympic race of her career.

"At the last hill I was completely dead, my legs felt like they were made of stone. I could see that the two women in front of me were much more at ease than I was, but as I came out of that hill I got closer to them. I told myself to hang on, that I would take the bronze. But then I said, hey, it's my last race, I have to try it."

Katerina Neummanova - before Friday the perennial runner-up - had earlier taken silver in Turin in the 15 km pursuit, the fourth silver of an Olympic career that also saw her take one bronze. Incredibly, it was her sixth Olympics, including one summer games; she came 18th in mountain biking in Atlanta in 1996.

Four medals highest Czech tally at Winter Olympics since foundation of Czech Republic

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Apart from Neumannova's two medals, cross-country skier Lukas Bauer took silver in the 15 km classical, and the Czech Republic's ice hockey team took bronze. Four medals is the most the Czech Republic has won at any Winter Olympics since the foundation of the state in 1993, and the head of the Czech Olympic Committee, Milan Jirasek, has described the Czech team in Turin as a success. By the way, the country came 15th in the overall rankings, with Germany topping the medals board.

Ice hockey team take bronze as bell tolls for "golden" generation

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Getting back to the Czech ice hockey team, the huge disappointment of being beaten 7:3 by Sweden in the semi-finals on Friday was somewhat assuaged by their 3:0 defeat of Russia in Saturday's contest to decide third place. The papers have been describing the result as "bronze for the golden boys", referring to the wonderful achievements of this generation of Czech hockey players, including gold at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 - regarded as one of the greatest Czech sporting successes of all time.

But this era does seem to be over: immediately after the game Jaromir Jagr said he was almost certain to retire from international hockey, and Jaroslav Spacek also said he was quitting. Meanwhile, Martin Straka and Martin Rucinsky are also believed to be considering calling it a day.

Stepanek wins first ATP title after losing three previous finals

Radek Stepanek, photo: CTKRadek Stepanek, photo: CTK Czech men's tennis number one Radek Stepanek has finally won the first ATP title of his career. Stepanek, who is 27, swept past Belgium's Christophe Rochus 6-0 6-3 in just 45 minutes to take the Rotterdam Open on Sunday. It was the Czech's fourth ATP final; he said winning felt great after such a long wait.

27-02-2006