Czech athlete Zuzana Hejnová, two-time world champion in the 400 metres hurdles, was named Czech Sportswoman of the Year in a gala presentation on Monday. Women have finished first in the competition for 10 years straight.
For a decade, a Czech sportswoman has won the country’s top sportsperson competition – an annual poll voted on by the country’s sports journalists. At Monday’s gala event, 400-metre hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnová was triumphant, finishing first for the second time in her career. Her first success was in 2013. Other women to clinch the title in recent years include tennis player Petra Kvitová, speed skater Martina Sáblíková, or javelin thrower Barbora Špotáková. Indeed, with one exception four women have dominated with repeat wins over the decade. The last man to win: tireless hockey star and workhorse Jaromír Jágr back in 2005. On Monday, Hejnová finished well ahead of both Martina Sablíkova and biathlete Ondřej Moravec. Afterwards, here’s what she had to say:
“Just about everyone who made it into the top 10 has been a world champion so it is very hard to choose the best among us. Back in 2013, I won every race so there it was more certain; because it is a survey I couldn’t be sure how things would turn out this time. So this year it was a bigger surprise.”
Organisers added a moment of drama prior to the announcement by naming both top male and female finishers first but not the overall winner. In the end, Hejnová clinched it. Besides Sablíkova and Moravec, others to finish in the top ten include rower Ondřej Synek, biathlete (and current fan favourite) Gabriela Soukalová, and cyclist Zdeněk Štybar. Zuzana Hejnová, returning from competition in South Africa, made clear she was glad she was able to attend the awards event, making clear she wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“It would be a shame to have missed it. Unless you really can’t because you are somewhere like the United States like Jarda Jágr; I made sure I would spend Christmas at home this year so that I could also attend.”
In other categories in the competition, the Czech women’s tennis team were named the best in the team category after retaining the Fed Cup against opponents Russia, while the junior awards went to snowboard world champion Ester Ledecká and cyclist Jiří Janošek.
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