In Sports News this week: Sweden’s Peter Hanson wins golf’s Czech Open; the Czech Under-21 baseball team wins the European title;in football, Sparta Prague lose to Žilina in the first leg of Champions League qualifier and fall to Plzeň in the top Czech division; and javelin champion Barbora Špotáková finishes second in the Diamond League event in Zurich but secures the series title.
Swedish golfer Peter Hanson won the Czech Open at the north Moravian resort of Čeladná over the weekend. The Swede had a four-shot lead before the final day but stumbled on Sunday; he scored three bogeys in a row and was caught up by England’s Gary Boyd and Peter Lawrie from Ireland. The trio then went into the play off where Hanson recovered and triumphed on the second hole. The win boosted Hanson’s hopes for a spot in Europe’s Ryder Cup team; he is now eighth on the qualifying list with one event to go. After taking the Czech Open title, Peter Hanson said it was hard to play well under such pressure.
“It was nothing near to just trying to win an event. I knew I had to win an event to get on the Ryder Cup team, and I think having that in the back of my mind was both a good and a bad thing because it’s so hard when you’re out there, trying not to think about it and trying to play golf.”
None of the Czech players made it through Friday’s cut; the best Czech professional, Viktor Skalle, finished 80th after scoring a double-bogey on the last hole on Friday.
In baseball, the Czech Republic’s Under-21 national team beat Russia 7:2 in the European Championship’s final in Brno on Sunday and secured the title. The Czechs went through the tournament unbeaten until Saturday, when they lost to Ukraine 6:2, but the home side had already secured a place in the finals. The home side could rely on great pitching and the team also showed great mental strength when in the finals they outplayed strong favourite, Russia. Pavel Chadim is the head coach of the Under 21 European Champions.
“Every tournament is very difficult. Italy and Russia were very tough opponents, they were the favourites. But we are very happy that we beat them; in the finals, we faced the best European pitcher, Russia’s Nikolai Lobanov, and we won. It’s a great success for the Czech Republic.”
In football, Czech title holders Sparta Prague lost 0:2 to the Slovak side of Žilina in the first leg of the Champions League’s final qualification round in the Czech capital on Tuesday. The home side missed six players from its strongest line-up, including striker Bony Wilfried and midfielder Libor Sionko, and put up little resistance to the confident Slovaks. Sparta had a single opportunity to score in the whole game but Cameroonian Leonard Keweuke failed to lob Žilina’s goalie. The Slovaks then bagged the game with two strikes in the second half. The second leg is scheduled in Žilina on Wednesday but Sparta’s chances of advancing to the lucrative Champions League look very slim as two of its key players, defenders Tomáš Řepka and Erich Brabec, were booked in the first leg and cannot take the field.
The black week for Sparta continued on Sunday with a home game against Plzeň. Sparta lost 1:0 after a disappointing performance and fell seven points behind Plzeň who now top the league table, followed by Sigma Olomouc who devoured Zbrojovka Brno 3:0.
And finally, in athletics, Czech Olympic javelin champion and world record holder Barbora Špotáková finished second in the final event of the IAAF Diamond League in Zurich on Wednesday but secured the series title. Špotáková said she was happy she did well despite an elbow injury.
“It was harder as I was injured but I kept my hopes up until the last moment. I really appreciate this a great deal; it’s a great award for me for performing steadily throughout the season. Many athletes prepare well for a few events and throw really far and then jump with joy like crazy, but it’s really hard to do well at every event But that’s what the title if for, and that’s why it’s so valuable.”
On Friday, Barbora Špotáková announced that she was ending her 11-year-long cooperation with coach Rudolf Černý, and that, as of next season, she would be trained by Jan Železný, the greatest athlete in the history of the discipline. Špotáková said she felt she was unable to further improve under her current coach, and hoped that training under Železný would provide a new impulse to her career.
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