22-12-2003

Pavel Nedved first footballer ever to become Czech Sportsman of the Year

Pavel Nedved's manager Zdenek Nehoda, photo: CTK Pavel Nedved's manager Zdenek Nehoda, photo: CTK Pavel Nedved, the Czech international football captain, has been named the Czech Sportsman of the Year, becoming the first footballer to win the award since it was introduced 44 years ago. Nedved was the clear favourite to win, given his magnificent form for both his club Juventus and the Czech Republic over the past 12 months. As well as the main award, voted on by sports journalists, the midfield dynamo also won Czech Television's viewers' poll for Sportsman of the Year. He said he was particularly pleased by the latter prize.

"The main reason we play football is for the fans, to fill stadiums, that's why this award means so much to me. I think the year went very well for the Czech national team, and for me personally at Juventus...I guess I'm enjoying my best years at the moment."

Second in the Sportsman of the Year awards was skier Martin Koukal, who shot to fame this year by taking gold in the 50 kilometres at the Cross Country World Championships. He was followed by ice hockey star Milan Hejduk, who was the top scorer in the NHL's regular season. Fourth was Roman Sebrle, silver medallist in the decathlon at the World Athletics Championships. He was followed by Stepanka Hilgertova: the two-time Olympic water slalom champion this year took two gold medals at her sport's world championships. Dana Zatopkova - who won gold in the javelin at the 1952 Olympics - was presented with a special "legends of Czech sport" award, which is named after her late, great husband, long-distance runner Emil Zatopek.

Skier Neumannova makes brilliant comeback with World Cup win

What a few days it's been for the cross-country skier Katerina Neuannova. On Thursday she had her bronze medal in the combination from the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics upgraded to silver, after the Russian winner was disqualified for drug taking. Then on Saturday Neumannova won the World Cup 10 kilometre free in Ramsau, Austria - her first race since having a baby in the summer. It was the eighth World Cup win in the skier's career and represented by any standards a remarkable comeback. Here's what she had to say after the race.

"The end was pretty tough but I kept going, I could feel Shevchenko of Ukraine on my heels. It feels great to have won, though it's a bit different than before, I feel a bit 'above things'. I hope I can keep it up in other races."

Impressive Czech hockey team come second in Baltic Cup

The Czech Republic have come second in ice hockey's Baltic Cup in Moscow. The highlight of the tournament for the Czechs was a comprehensive 5:1 win over eventual winners Finland. Throughout the tournament Slavomir Lener's team played well; encouraging news ahead of the forthcoming World Championships, which are of course being held in the Czech Republic. By the way, among the Czech players was Petr Koukal, brother of the above-mentioned skiing star Martin Koukal.

22-12-2003