In Sports News: Hradec Králové end champions Sparta Prague’s 33-game unbeaten run as they return to Czech football’s first division in style; Bohemians 1905 draw with Slavia in their first home game at the latter’s Eden stadium; Roman Kreuziger drops out of the leading 10 riders in the Tour de France; and it’s love-all as tennis players Štěpánek and Vaidišová wed.
Paul Whitaker arrived in Prague on Saturday from a swimming challenge that took him 18 days to complete. The 41-year-old Englishman decided to swim 175 kilometers from the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice back to the Czech capital. His goals in doing so? Raising a quarter million Czech crowns for a charity called Asistence, which works with physically and combined handicapped people, and to break the Czech record in river swimming. Did he achieve his goals? And what were the highlights and obstacles of the challenge?
One of the most keenly watched players in the Czech league this season will be defender Tomáš Kalas. Though the 17-year-old has only made one appearance for Sigma Olomouc, some of Europe’s top clubs were tracking him and he has now joined England’s Chelsea in a deal that will see him move to London next year and could net Olomouc USD 8 million. I discussed the signing of Tomáš Kalas with Chelsea’s sporting director Frank Arnesen, who was in Prague on Thursday.
The new league season in Czech football gets underway after the summer break this weekend. And the very first game of 2010-2011 could well take place in front of half-empty stands on Friday evening. Bohemians 1905 are hosting Slavia Prague, but both clubs’ fans are organizing a boycott of the game to protest the fact that they are now sharing the modern Eden stadium. It was built for Slavia, but it is now also Bohemians’ home ground, after they were forced to leave their traditional stadium about a kilometer away.
In Sports News this Monday: the Czech Republic beat Chile to reach the semi-finals of tennis’s Davis Cup, but will face a sterner test against Novak Djokovic and his Serbian team-mates in September; Roman Kreuziger can enjoy a rest day in the Tour de France after finishing fourth in the first Alpine stage on Sunday; and the Czech football season begins with a piquant game in Prague’s Vršovice district.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych came close to his first Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon as he faced world’s number one, Rafael Nadal, in Sunday’s final. But the Spaniard outclassed the Czech underdog and wrapped up the match in just three sets, spoiling Berdych’s hopes of becoming the first Czech since 1973 to win the tournament.
The Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová unexpectedly reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon on Tuesday, after overcoming Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. The 20-year-old Kvitová – ranked 62nd in the world - had already caused one upset earlier by knocking out fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki. However, in the semi-finals she will face her toughest opponent yet: grass court powerhouse and reigning Wimbledon champion Serena Williams.
In Sports News this Monday: no surprises as goalie Tomáš Vokoun is named Czech ice hockey player of the year; the Czech Derby at Velká Chuchle is won by a 16-year-old teenage jockey, only the second woman ever to triumph in the race; and speed skating star Martina Sáblíková wins a cycling race – can she also enjoy success at the Summer Olympics?
Paul Whitaker likes a challenge, but he is no seasoned endurance swimmer. At least not yet. Last October, the 41-year-old Englishman with a fondness for adrenalin sports set himself a goal, and decided to swim the 175 kilometres from the South Bohemian city of České Budějovice to Prague, almost all the way down the Vltava, and all for a charity challenge. Earlier today I had the pleasure of inviting Mr Whitaker into the studio and talking to him about his big plunge.