In this week's Sports News: Vavřinec Hradilek brings Czechs their first Olympic medal; a second silver for Czechs in rowing competition; Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká win silver in the tennis doubles; Kolocová and Sluková are knocked out in the beach volleyball quarter-finals; Sýkorová wins bronze in shooting competition and Miroslava Knapková brings Czechs their first gold medal.
Vavřinec Hradilek brings Czechs first Olympic medal
After an initial barren spell of what seemed like an eternity came the Czech Republic’s first Olympic medal – last Wednesday, 1st August, twenty-five-year-old Prague-born kayaker Vavřinec Hradilek won a silver medal in the Olympic men's canoe slalom K1 kayak category. Hradilek came in with a time of 94.78 seconds. He was pipped at the post by gold medal winner Italy’s Daniele Molmenti, who came in at 93.43 seconds. This is Hradilek’s first Olympic medal; the kayaker came in seventh place in his category during the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
Second silver for Czech in rowing
The Czech Republic won a second Olympic medal two days later on Friday as rower Ondřej Synek came in second place in a 200m race with a time of 6:59.37. He was beaten to the gold by New Zealand’s Mahé Drysdale who came in with a time of 6:57.82. This is Synek’s second Olympic medal – he won the same medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká win silver in tennis doubles
The Czech women’s doubles tennis pair Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká have failed in their bid for an Olympic gold, going down 4-6, 4-6 to the American sisters Serena and Venus Williams. The match, played on a rainy Sunday at Wimbledon’s All England Club, took place under the closed roof of Centre Court and was a replay of the recent Wimbledon women’s doubles finals, in which the Williams sisters ultimately prevailed. This too was a decidedly one-sided affair, with the Williams sisters breaking their opponents’ serve in the very first game. The Czech pair had a few opportunities of breaking back, but ultimately their opponents proved successful. Despite the loss, Hlaváčková and Hradecká remained in good spirits, even wearing the famous Czech wellington boots worn by the nation’s Olympic hopefuls at the opening ceremony, as they collected their silver medals. Here, Hradecká explains to Czech Television their decision to wear the boots:
“Because this morning when we went on to the court it was raining, so we thought that this was an ideal form of footwear that could perhaps impress, since we didn’t manage to do that by getting the gold.”
In the interview, Hlaváčková added that the pair also wanted to bring some Czech humour to the medals ceremony. As for their opponents - they now have four Olympic gold medals spanning twelve years of the Games in their collection.
Kolocová and Sluková knocked out in beach volleyball quarter-finals
And disappointment was the order of the day on Sunday for the Czech women’s beach volleyball pair of Kristýna Kolocová and Markéta Sluková. The Czechs were denied the chance of battling for a medal by the US pair of Jennifer Kessy and April Ross. The quarter-final match ended 2-0, with both sets ending relatively tightly, 23:18 and 25:21, respectively. The match, which took place before a sell-out crowd, was over in 49 minutes. The Czech pair had two set points in the first set, but ultimately it was the Americans who managed to outplay the twenty-four-year-olds. But the Czech pair need not worry too much: they’ve become something of a phenomenon back home and later expressed their gratitude for the interest fans had displayed in the sport.
Sýkorová wins bronze in shooting competition
Meanwhile, twenty-five-year-old Zlín-born athlete Adéla Sýkorová brought the Czech Republic yet another medal on Saturday, winning a bronze in the Women's 50 metre rifle three positions competition. In the sport, a .22 Long Rifle is fired at a target at 50 metres distance. The total score is an aggregation of ten shots fired in the standing position in the finals and sixty shots fired while standing, kneeling, and in the prone position – or lying on the ground, during the qualifiers. Sýkorová was in fourth place after the qualifiers and managed a strong performance in the finals, coming in with a total score of 683.0 – beaten by the US’s Jamie Lynn Gray with a score of 691.9 and Serbia’s silver medal winner Ivana Maksimović, with a score of 687.5. Sýkorová, a geography student, first started the sport when she joined a shooting club aged just six.
Knapková brings Czechs first gold
Finally, thirty-one-year-old Brno born athlete Miroslava Knapková brought the Czech Republic their very first gold medal at the Games on Saturday. The win came in the sport of rowing, specifically, women’s singles sculls in an event staged in Dorney Lake, not far from Windsor. Knapková came in with a final time of 7:54.37, besting silver medal winner Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark, who finished with a time of 7:57.72. It was that strong, more than three second advantage, that saw the Czech cruise to victory. Appearing later at Czech House in London’s Islington, the athlete revealed that she was so happy to win that she had even kept her medal on in the shower. In case you’re counting, that’s three out of five Czech medals in the field of rowing.