In Sports News this Monday: Czech swimmers enjoy success at the European Short Course Swimming Championships, bringing home seven medals; the domestic soccer league goes into its winter break, with Jablonec’s David Lafata on 13 goals in 16 games; and guess which Czech athletics legend was among the first dozen inductees into the new IAAF Hall of Fame.
The Czech Republic had a highly successful 2012 European Short Course Swimming Championships in France’s Chartres at the weekend, bringing home seven medals and finishing seventh in the national medals table. Petra Chocová was the best of the Czechs, bringing home gold in the 50m breaststroke and silver in the 100m breaststroke. In the latter race, she was pipped to the wall by Denmark’s Rikke Moeller Pedersen, who set a new European record of 1:04.12. Chocová – who in recent years has undergone several shoulder operations – couldn’t keep up with the Dane in the second half of the 100m, but nevertheless succeeded in beating her own Czech record to set a new one of 1:05.50.
“From the start I went into it with the idea of trying to turn first, or at least before Pedersen, because I know she has an extremely strong second 50m. But I didn’t expect that my legs would get so heavy, and that with the third turn I’d hardly get off the wall. But I think I kept up with her quite well and as I got near the finish I knew it’d be a good time.”
Simona Baumtrová also did well at the European Short Course Swimming Championships. She picked up bronze medals in the 50m, 100m and 200m crawl, as well as silver in the medley alongside Chocová and their teammates Lucie Svěcená and Aneta Pechancová.
This year Baumtrová was one of the favourites and speaking after the 200m crawl said she had been pleased in general to find herself in that position.
“It’s a new experience for me, a new position. Maybe one result was that the final of the 100m didn’t go very well for me. But coming third in the 200m completely made up for that. It was my 10th start – it sounds terrible when I say it – in four days.”
Moving on to soccer, and the last round of the Czech first division before the winter break was held at the weekend. Jablonec are currently in top spot, following a 3:2 home win over Hradec Králové. Two of Jablonec’s goals came from David Lafata, who has 13 goals in 16 games – some years the top scorer for the whole season doesn’t have many more and that really is a phenomenal tally by the division’s standards. However, it is not clear if Jablonec’s players will be celebrating Christmas in pole position; Viktoria Plzeň can go top if they overcome Jihlava on Monday evening – after the recording of our programme.
Whatever happens, Viktoria Plzeň will be looking forward to the new year, when they will be taking part in the knockout stage of the Europa League. They advanced from their group with a game to spare thanks to a 1:1 draw against Academica de Coimbra in Portugal last week. Sparta Prague are also through, after a 1:1 home draw against Lyon. The two club’s progress is very good news for domestic football – the last time there were two Czech clubs still involved in European action after Christmas was back in 2004.
A late Czech legend was among the first 12 greats of athletics history inducted at the weekend into the IAAF’s Hall of Fame, created this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the sport’s world governing body. There will be no prizes for guessing the name of Emil Zátopek, the ungainly looking runner who at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki took gold medals in the 5,000m, the 10,000m and the marathon, surely a feat that will never be repeated.
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