In this week’s Sports News: Veselý shuns the Czech national team to focus on the NBA; Slavia draws 3-3 in pre-season friendly; hurdles athlete Hejnová returns to form at the Diamond League tournament; cancer survivor Koukal will carry the Olympic flag in London and Milan Baroš rejects a pay cut and stays at Galatasaray.
NBA Washington Wizards player Jan Veselý has decided to bow out of the Czech national team’s qualifiers for the biennial European Basketball Championships, or FIBA EuroBasket. The 22-year-old made the decision after his NBA bosses said that they wanted Veselý to remain in training for the Wizards’ upcoming season rather than focusing on the national team’s efforts. Representatives from the Czech national squad had been in negotiations with the Wizards, but after the decision was announced on Saturday, stated that Veselý would have significantly improved the national team’s chances but that the Czechs expected that they would have to do without their star player. Veselý joined the Wizards in 2011 as part of that year’s NBA Draft. The 2013 EuroBasket tournament will be held in Slovenia; the Czechs will face Portugal, Turkey, Belarus and Italy.
A pre-season friendly between Italy’s Serie A club Parma F.C. and the Czech team Slavia Prague ended in a 3-3 draw. The match was held in northern Italy’s Levico Terme on Saturday. The Czechs went up after Štěpán Koreš converted a pass from Milan Škoda in the 14th minute. Amauri equalized in the 26th minute, while Galloppa put the Italians 2-1 up in the 49th minute. But the Czechs came back with two goals in short succession in the 61st and 63rd minutes before Alessandro Lucarelli levelled out the match at 3-3 in the 75th minute. This was Slavia’s final match before the start of the new season on Monday, in which they are set to play Jihlava. Meanwhile, Sparta Prague also played a pre-season friendly over the weekend, losing 2-3 on penalties to rivals FK Bohemians, after the match ended 1-1 at full time,.
Czech 400m hurdles athlete Zuzana Hejnová beat both world champion Lashinda Demus and Olympic champion Melaine Walker to achieve first place at the Diamond League track and field championships in Monaco on Friday. The athlete achieved a time of 54.12 seconds, a season best that managed to wipe away a disappointing fourth place finish at the European Championships in Helsinki in late June. Training colleague and fellow Czech Denisa Rosolová came in fourth with a time of 54.73. Commenting on the win, Hejnová said she hoped to surprise at the upcoming Olympics tournament. Also at the tournament was Czech pole vaulting champion Jiřina Ptáčníková, who came in joint third, clearing a height of 4.62 metres. Ptáčníková will also be joining Rosolová and Hejnová at the Olympics in London.
Twenty-six year old badminton player and cancer survivor Petr Koukal is set to carry the Czech flag at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics on Friday. In September 2010, Koukal was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent immediate medical treatment; last year, he was declared fit and returned to badminton. Reflecting on the honour of being able to lead his country in the Olympic ceremony, Koukal said that is was a huge honour and one he could not have imagined in the dark days following his cancer diagnosis. Koukal’s presence at the Olympics remained uncertain until early June, when he managed to qualify for the tournament. The player was the reigning Czech Champion from 2007-2011 and also a participant at the last Games in Beijing. Here is Koukal talking about how he approached the cancer diagnosis and decided to use it to educate others:
“So we told people what was going on – what had really happened. And that led to great interest from the media, which somewhat surprised us. But then we said to ourselves that there was no point hiding from it and let’s instead talk about it and let it be known that men like me should know that something like this exists and that it is important to keep your eye out for it.”
He had a disappointing Euro 2012 and even found himself being booed by his own fans, but now freshly retired Czech international footballer Milan Baroš has decided to stay on as a striker at his local team, Turkey’s Galatasaray. Baroš has been with the club since 2008 after stints at clubs such as Liverpool and Aston Villa. With summer transfer windows wide open, several clubs, reportedly both in China and the US Major League Soccer, expressed an interest in the thirty-year old player. However, Baroš, who receives €2.7 million per-season at Galatasaray, was reportedly offered a pay cut of €1.5 million by the unspecified new clubs. He refused and decided to stay in Turkey, although his contract there will run out at the end of the upcoming season. Reports suggest that Galatasaray are eager to ditch Baroš, whose form in the 2011-2012 season proved disappointing.