In Sports News this Monday: Swimmer Simona Baumrtová takes four medals at Short Course Championships; Plzeň draw Shakhtar Donetsk while Liberec will face AK Alkmaar in Europa League – Jan Nezmar says latter have learned to adapt for continental competition; and Czech curlers are heartbroken after missing out on Winter Olympics.
Swimmer Baumrtová takes four medals at European Short Course Championships
Swimmer Simona Baumrtová did exceptionally well at the European Short Course Championships in Herning, Denmark. The 22-year-old from Chomutov took gold in the 50m backstroke, silver in the 100m and 200m backstroke, and bronze with her Czech teammates in the mixed medley relay. The last of those four medals came in Sunday’s 200m final, when she finished less than a second behind winner Daryna Zevina of Ukraine. Speaking just moments after the race, Baumrtová, a sprint specialist, said the result had been closer than she had anticipated.
“Just when we completed the 200m I noticed on the board that Zevina hadn’t been so far ahead. But unfortunately there was nothing I could do, as I was just worn out. She passed me out after the 100m mark but that was to be expected, as she’s a distance specialist and the 200m is her event. If anything, I thought she’d be a bit faster.”
Plzeň to face Hübschman’s Shakhtar Donetsk in Europa League
Unusually, two Czech soccer clubs went into Monday afternoon’s draw for the next stage of the Europa League. Viktoria Plzeň, who last season topped a group that also included Napoli, are set to face Shakhtar Donetsk. That tie will have extra spice for Czech fans, as the Ukrainian side includes international defensive midfielder/centre back Tomáš Hübschman.
Liberec doing better in Europe after Champions League failure, says Nezmar
Slovan Liberec, meanwhile, have drawn AZ Alkmaar of Holland. Last year Liberec got nowhere in Europe after failing to reach the Champions League group stage. However, sporting director and former striker Jan Nezmar says the team have benefited from that experience this time around.
“We won the league playing offensive football that both we and the fans enjoyed. We thought we’d get through the Champions League qualification stages in the same way. But we learned, in particular from Cluj, who won the Romanian league in the same style, but then adopted an entirely different style for the Champions League. The result is all that matters. It’s not about playing attractively but effectively.”
Czech curlers miss out on historic first Olympics
With attention increasingly focusing on February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Czech curling team were hoping to reach the Games for the first time ever. They came close to an historic first at an Olympic Qualification Event in Germany’s Fuessen but were left heartbroken after losing 5:8 to the USA on Sunday in a direct playoff for a berth in Russia. Skip Jiří Snítil said spirits were low in the Czech team but that one day they would get to the Olympics.
“I think that it would be the fulfilment of a dream for us players, and for everybody who plays curling in the Czech Republic. We’ll have to wait a few years, but I’m convinced that Czech curling is rising continuously and that in four years we’ll see at least one team at the Olympics.”