Czech competitors court success, but there’s mixed news away from the Olympic stadium

Petra Kvitová, phooto: ČTK

There’s mixed Olympics sports news away from the stadium for Czech competitors. But on the courts, things have been going well for Czech women in both the singles and doubles competitions.

Vítězslav Veselý, photo: ČTK
Good news, the Czech Republic has just got an Olympic medal. The bad news is that it was four years late.

Javelin thrower Vítězslav Veselý finally got the bronze medal from the London Olympics after the second placed Ukrainian Oleksandr Pyatnytsya was finally disqualified for doping. Veselý had been fourth in the competition. Veselý, who is competing in Rio for a more up to date medal, says that in one way it’s the achievement of a dream, albeit not quite in the way that he would have wanted.

In Brazil, there was mixed news Tuesday for the Czech contingent. On the tennis courts the Czech women proved their grit in both the singles and doubles competitions.

Petra Kvitová, phooto: ČTK
Petra Kvitová came through a long two-and-a-half hour duel with Russian Ekaterina Makarova after losing the first set 4:6. In a very tight contest Kvitová took the next two sets to book her place in the quarterfinals. There she will face an unexpected opponent in Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who knocked out the defending singles gold medallist Serena Williams in straight sets, another surprise result.

In the doubles, both Czech pairings of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlaváčková, know in Czech shorthand as the two H’s, and Lucie Šafářová and Barbora Strýcová are also through to the quarterfinals.

The two H’s had the easier path winning in straight sets. Šafářová and Strýcová though had to come from behind after losing the first tie-break set against Canadians Eugenie Bouchard and Gabriela Dabrowski. They took the following sets 6:2, 6:4.

Away from the stadium action though there was disappointment for Czech speed skating star Martina Sáblíková and her hopes of emulating her Winter Olympics success in the summer games in the cycling speed trials. Sáblíková, a three time Olympics speed skating champion, initially cycled as part of her summer training for skating but turned in such good performances that she decided to compete at the top level.

Martina Sáblíková, photo: ČTK
Sáblíková thought she had booked a sure Olympics place with her time in the road cycling World Championships last year. But the small print of the conditions did not in fact allot any Olympics places to Czech competitors on the basis of those results.

Sáblíková appealed that decision and flew out to Rio for a final sporting arbitration ruling in case she was given a last chance to enter the Olympic competition. But on Tuesday the verdict was announced and it went against Sáblíková and her coach Petr Novák. He was asked by Czech Radio how Martina Sáblíková reacted to the ruling:

“I believe that she cried. Up till the last moment she was training. Yesterday we went twice on the time trial circuit and she was flying round it. Martina was very well prepared and in a way that makes what has happened even worse.”

Novák admitted that it will be tough for Sáblíková to overcome the disappointment.