In Sports News this Monday: Josef Váňa wins the Grand Pardubice steeplechase for the seventh time at the age of 57, though his latest triumph is not without controversy; the Czech Republic’s footballers put their campaign to reach Euro 2012 back on track with a win over Scotland in Prague; and Phoenix and Boston thrill fans as the NHL comes to the Czech capital for the second time.
Just a week and a half short of his 58th birthday, Josef Váňa won the Velká pardubická or Grand Pardubice steeplechase for the seventh time on Sunday, confirming his reputation as one of Europe’s most remarkable jockeys. However, Váňa’s second win in a row on Tiumen was not without controversy. The nine-year-old finished just a nose ahead of Amant Gris ridden by Marek Stromský, who complained that Váňa had pressed him into a fence. It took nearly half an hour for stewards to announce the winner, but when they did there were loud cheers around the race course for the veteran jockey.
“Thanks to my youthful rashness, Amant Gris almost caught me at the finish. But if I won, I won, that’s the way it is…It’s the seventh time, and I think seven is enough.”
Sunday’s Grand Pardubice steeplechase was the 120th.
The Czech Republic’s footballers have put their campaign to reach Euro 2012 back on track, after a 1:0 win over Scotland in Prague on Friday night. The Czechs had to show patience against a Scottish side which lined up without a striker. But the breakthrough eventually came halfway through the second-half, when Roman Bednář headed a corner on to Roman Hubník, who fired into the net from close range. The goal-scorer said the win would prove valuable for the Czechs.
“For us it was a very difficult game, involving a lot of battling. You could see whenever we lost the ball going forward how hard we fought to get it back; in that way we eliminated fast counterattacks by the Scots. Those three points are hugely important. It was really important, mentally.”
The Czech Republic will be expected to take three more points when they play the minnows of Lichtenstein away on Tuesday in their last European Championship qualifying game this year.
The league’s first games here in 2008 were judged a damp squib, but the NHL’s reputation has now been restored after two thrilling match-ups between Phoenix Coyotes and Boston Bruins at Prague’s O2 Arena. There were seven goals in the first game on Saturday, as Phoenix ran out 5:2 winners, while Boston got their revenge the following evening with a 3:0 win. The Bruins’ Slovak captain Zdeno Chára had this to say about the team’s improvement in match two.
“I think that obviously we played a much better game. We tried to create momentum at least going into the third period in the first game and carried that over into the second game. I think that was the biggest difference: that we came out strong. We were creating a lot of chances, we were putting a lot of pressure on them, and didn’t give them much time to do anything. Eventually we got rewarded. It was 0:0 for a long time, but eventually we scored and pretty much from that time we were totally controlling the game.”
Czech goaltender Ondřej Pavelec was rushed to hospital after collapsing only minutes into a season opener between his club Atlanta and Washington at the weekend. Tests are still being carried out to determine what caused the 23-year-old to suddenly fall back on the ice, suffering concussion.
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