In Sports News this Monday: Czechs beat Malta in World Cup qualifier; Sparta breaks losing streak while Jágr misses three chances against Litvínov; Štěpánek wins doubles title with Paes at Shanghai Masters tennis championship; Velká Pardubická steeplechase ends with a disappointment for Josef Váňa; European champion Dryml misses top three spots at the Golden Helmet speedway race.
The Czech national football team beat Malta in Plzeň on Friday, picking up three points in the 2014 World Cup qualification. Czechs previously had one point for the 0:0 tie with Denmark last month. Theodor Gebre Selassie was the first Czech to score in the match against Malta, with teammates Tomáš Pekhart and Jan Rezek adding two more goals in the second half. Although it took the Czechs a full thirty minutes to find their groove, the victory was not a big surprise. Now, the team has to focus on a more difficult match on Tuesday when they face one of the strongest opponents in their qualification group–Bulgaria, as the 25-year-old defender Gebre Selassie pointed out:
“So far we were preparing for the match with Malta, but everyone knows that the Bulgarians are a whole grade above Malta. It will definitely be a tougher match and more dangerous from the very beginning than the match with Malta was.”
The Czechs, with four points, are currently ranked third in their qualification group, trailing Bulgaria by one point.
In the world of extraliga hockey, Prague’s Sparta put an end to their 9-game losing streak on Sunday, winning 3:2 over Pardubice.
Jaromir Jágr, playing for Kladno, did not manage to get a single goal, although he had three chances to do so in the Sunday match against the north-Bohemian Litvínov. Nevertheless his team won 2:1, putting them in fourth place in the extraliga so far. Next Tuesday’s match between Jágr’s Kladno and Kometa Brno next Tuesday in Prague sold out in just six hours.
Czech tennis players saw both failures and successes at the Shanghai Masters championship last week. Highest seeded Czech player Tomáš Berdych lost to the eventual tournament winner Novak Djokovic on Saturday. But the 6-3, 6-4 singles semi-final was not the end for Czechs in Shanghai. Radek Štěpánek with partner Leander Paes of India grabbed their third tour-level title of the season on Sunday, after defeating India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna in the doubles final. The fourth seeded Czech-Indian duo had won the Australian Open this year, but lost in the US Open finals last month.
The 59-year-old jockey Josef Váňa with his horse Tiumen failed to defend last year’s title at the Velká Pardubická steeplechase cross-country run in Pardubice, taking third place on Saturday. Although the eight-time champion considered his result a loss, he said he was not willing to beat his horse just to take second place. In the end, the unlikely winner of the race was the French mare Orphee des Blis with jockey Jan Faltejsek. Váňa, who will be turning 60 in a few weeks, has taken part in the Velká Pardubická steeplechase 26 times, and he is still considering participating next year.
The Velká Pardubická race had to be moved this year from its traditional Sunday spot to Saturday, because of another long-standing event taking place in the city this weekend - the Golden Helmet speedway race. Grzegorz Walasek became the first Pole to win the Golden Helmet on Sunday, leaving behind Fredrik Lindgren of Sweden and the Dane Hans Andersen. The best Czech result of the race was Aleš Dryml’s fourth place. This year’s European champion, Dryml had taken the third-place in Pardubice in 2005 and was visibly disappointed with Sunday’s result:
“I’m not very happy with fourth place, but, as I say, that’s history now. Let’s see what will happen next year.”