Sports News

Katerina Neumannova, photo CTK

By Vladimir Tax

Katerina Neumannova, photo CTK
Neumannova top in World Cup cross-country skiing ranking

The Czech town of Nove Mesto hosted a World Cup cross-country skiing event at the weekend. The world number one, the Czech Republic's Katerina Neumannova, came second in the women's 5-km freestyle with a time of 14:04.80, 19.6 seconds behind Julia Tchepalova of Russia, and 2 seconds faster than Italy's Stefania Belmondo, who came third. Neumannova leads the World Cup ranking with 660 points, 63 points ahead of Julia Tchepalova. Italy's Fabio Maj excelled in the 10-km men's free-style sprint to capture his first victory of the season in 26:12.90 minutes, 1.90 seconds ahead of the Estonian Jaak Mae. Kristen Skjeldal of Norway was third, 4.1 seconds behind.

Czechs doing well at Australian Open

Tennis now, and Czechs have been doing quite well at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park. On the first day of the tournament on Monday, the 21st seed Daja Bedanova beat Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus 6-1 6-2, and unseeded Kveta Hrdlickova defeated Japan's Shinobu Asagoe 4-6 6-3 6-2. In the men's singles, the 26th seed Jiri Novak dispatched Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 6-1 6-0 6-4, but Jiri Vanek lost to 21st seed Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco 6-3 6-3 6-3, and Martin Damm was defeated by Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic 4-6 7-5 7-6 6-4.

Loprais ends second in Dakar

Dakar rally, photo CTK
Motor racing now - and the six-time winner of the Dakar rally, the Czech truck driver Karel Loprais, wasn't so lucky this year. After 17 days, Loprais ended second in the prestigious race, 4 hours and 23 minutes behind Vladimir Chagin of Russia. Loprais said after the race that Chagin had the advantage with a more powerful engine. Altogether, Loprais has taken part in the Dakar rally 15 times, finishing the race 13 times, and has won - believe it or not - a total of 11 medals.

Enge's F1 hopes dashed

And yet more bad news for Czech motor racing fans. Speculation that the country's first ever Formula 1 driver, Tomas Enge, would not be racing in the championship next season was confirmed at a press conference on Friday. Enge took part in the last three races of the season last year for the Prost team, but this year he is to stay in the lower category Formula 3000. My colleague Ian Willoughby asked him if he was disappointed: