Czech cross country skier Martin Koukal is having the time of his life at the cross country skiing world championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. For the second time in the championships the 24-year-old skier finished in the vaunted top six, coming in fifth in the classic cross country sprint on Wednesday. The sprint is Koukal's specialty, and though the skier was nervous at the start of qualification, he soon found his stride. Afterwards he qualified his finish as his greatest personal achievement ever:
"Once again there was just a little bit was missing. But I know now that I've got what it takes. I was just missing that extra little bit in the final against my competitors, who've been around a bit longer than myself. Basically I would have to say the last four days have been the best in my career. "
Remember of course that just a few days ago Koukal was only half a second off of securing a medal, so things are definitely looking up for him.
A big match ahead for Czech football side Slavia Thursday evening as they face Besiktas Istanbul at home in the second-leg of the UEFA Cup last sixteen. Last week Slavia beat Besiktas in Prague 1 - 0 on a goal from Tomas Dosek, but no one is expecting an easy night this time around. The Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes points out famous Turkish striker Ilhan Mansiz will be on-side to try and sink the only Czech club still in international action. It has to be said the Turks are notoriously difficult to beat in front of their home crowd. The Czech team's coach Miroslav Beranek has stressed Slavia will have to play very active defense if they are to have any chance of going through.
In other international football action in the last few days there are several key moments to note: on Tuesday Czech striker Jan Koller helped his side Borussia Dortmund set a furious pace in the Champions League against Real Madrid, putting his team in the driver's seat in the 22nd minute. The match ultimately ended in a tie but there is no question Jan Koller has been on a roll: he scored in the last match-up between the Borussia and Madrid as well. That game ended in a 2-1 loss for the German side.
In ice hockey action Wednesday Czech star Jaromir Jagr was a presence in a match-up between his Washington Capitols and the Buffalo Sabres. Jagr scored the game' opener four minutes into the first period and fellow Czech Robert Lang had two assists to lift Washington over Buffalo in a close 3-2 win.
Other Czechs who made a difference on ice on Wednesday: forward Petr Sykora got the game winner against the Florida Panthers with his 24th goal of the season for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The goal came on a pass from teammate Adam Oates, completing what Florida defenceman Mathieu Biron called "a heck of a play".
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