In Sports News this Monday: the Czech Republic’s ice hockey players come second in Sweden’s LG Hockey Games – decent performances by less well-known players will please coach Vladimír Růžička, after 25 NHL players declare themselves unavailable for the imminent World Championship; with Baník Ostrava and Sparta Prague playing out a 1:1 draw, only two points separate the top four teams in the Czech soccer league with three games to go; Iveta Benešová wins the second WTA title of her career; and pole vaulter Kateřina Baďurová retires at 27.
After a 2:1 win in overtime over the hosts Sweden and a 4:1 loss to Finland at the LG Hockey Games, the Czech Republic’s ice hockey players succeeded in beating Russia in regulation time for the first time in over two years in Stockholm on Sunday, coming from 1:0 down to win 4:2. That result meant the Czechs finished second in the tournament and third overall in the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour. Decent performances in Sweden from a team featuring many relatively unknown players will doubtless be balm to the soul of coach Vladimír Růžička; he has now seen a remarkable 25 players from the NHL declare themselves unavailable for the hockey World Championship, which gets underway in Germany on Friday.
It looks like we are in for an unusually dramatic end to the season in Czech soccer’s first division: with only three rounds remaining, only two points separate the top four teams. Sparta Prague’s lead over second-placed Baník Ostrava is still only based on goal difference after an exciting game at the latter’s Bazaly stadium on Sunday. Baník went ahead early on thanks to a Tomáš Řepka own goal, but ended up having to share the points after 18-year-old Václav Kadlec evened the score for Sparta early in the second half.
Jablonec, meanwhile, are breathing down the necks of the top two, after a 4:0 win over Bohemians Praha left them just one point off the pace. And Teplice, in fourth, also kept up the pressure with a 5:0 hammering of Kladno.
The Czech tennis player Iveta Benešová took the second WTA title of her career on Saturday, when she overcame Romania’s Simona Halep 6-4 6-2 in the final of the only WTA event in Africa, the Moroccan Grand Prix. Benešová had been beaten by the Romanian in Marbella a few weeks previously, and described her victory in the final as a “little revenge”. Also sweet, no doubt, was the cheque for USD 37,000 that the Czech picked up.
The Czech pole vaulter Kateřina Baďurová has announced her retirement at the age of only 27. Baďurová’s greatest success was silver at the Athletics World Championships in Osaka three years ago. However, she has been dogged by serious injuries in recent years and was actually on crutches when she made her decision known to the media on Friday. Indeed her partner, high jumper Tomáš Janků, said Baďurová’s retirement was nothing less than liberation from a vicious cycle.
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