Kreuziger takes an historic sixth place in the Giro d'Italia; French Open remains a dream for Petra Kvitová, who lost the fourth round to Li Na; the Czech women’s basketball team beats Russia to win the Karlovy Vary Grand Prix; and Bolt is back for the Golden Spike Ostrava, and having a go at golf.
Cyclist Roman Kreuziger has his first Giro d'Italia in the bag and with it the best result a Czech has ever achieved in the Grand Tours. The 25-year-old placed sixth in the Italian Tour, 12 and a half minutes behind the winner Alberto Contador, and more over won the white jersey for the best young rider. It was his highest personal achievement so far as well, outdoing his ninth place finish in the Tour de France last year:
“Considering what a difficult Giro it was in the end and how many good cyclists there were, I can be satisfied. When you look at the competition there was here, I think it’s a better result than ninth place in the Tour de France, because everyone from the Tour was here with no exceptions.”
Regarding the Tour de France, Kreuziger says he’ll be taking a few days’ rest to get over a cold that accompanied him the last three days of the Giro, and will hopefully be in Passage du Gois on June 2 for the start.
Disappointment on the tennis court now, as world no. 9 Petra Kvitová leaves the French Open after a fourth round loss to Li Na of China 6:2; 1:6; 3:6. The 21-year old Czech got off to an excellent start, clearly controlling the first set. Sixth seed Li Na however sharpened up in the next set, putting her hard on the defence and tying the match. Kvitová looked ready to regain the advantage in the third set, leading 3:0, but her rival got the upper hand the moment Kvitová lost the serve, taking 6 games in a row and the match. Petra Kvitová may be on her way home now but her advance to the fourth round of the Roland Garros – after playing through two rounds with a shoulder problem – was the first of her career. Na Li can now enjoy being the first Chinese ever to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open.
The Czech women’s basketball team beat Russia on Sunday to take the Karlovy Vary Grand Prix tournament. The final score of the finals match was 70:62. Never more than two points down, the home team only got the better of their opponents in the last quarter from a score of 54:52. The second place world champions came together after being defeated by Poland on Friday. Couch Lubor Blažek says whoever saw that loss would not have believed the team would pull themselves up to beat as formidable a rival as Russia; what was important in this match, he said, wasn’t so much winning or losing as teaching the Russians to fear them a bit ahead of the European Championships in Poland in June.
Lastly, many of the world’s athletic greats are converging on Ostrava for the annual Golden Spike track and field championship, among them champion sprinter Usain Bolt. On Sunday Bolt met on neutral ground with Czech sporting titans Ivan Lendl, Jaromír Jágr and Tomáš Berdych for a game of golf. He might be new to the sport, but he made it clear at the press conference beforehand that he brought certain other advantages to the course.
“First of all it’s an honour for me to be here today at this opening. I have a great honour to stand here with all these great players. I really enjoy coming here every year, back to back. And I’d like to say that I’m the youngest standing here.”
The fastest man in the world will be running the unconventional 300-metre race, and organisers of the Golden Spike made no secret of the fact that his presence is the championship’s main draw. Some Czechs too however have a good chance of doing well at Tuesday’s meet, among them javelin thrower Barbora Špotáková, hurdler Petr Svoboda and pole-vaulter Jiřina Ptáčníková.
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