Sports News

By Peter Smith

Beginning with motorsports and a Czech made a little piece of sporting history at the weekend, when the truck driver Karel Loprais won the Paris-Dakar Ralley for the 6th time. Together with Josef Kalina and Petr Hamerla of Team Tatra - Loprais recorded the fastest time in the final 25 km lap of the race around the Senegalese city.

Loprais finished the race a massive eight hours and nine minutes ahead of the Japanese driver Josimasa Sugarwara in a Hino truck, equaling the record set by the great French motorcyclist Peterhansel with 6th Paris-Dakar victories.

Less luck for the Skoda Team in the Monte Carlo Rally, though. The team's German driver Armin Schwarz just missed the podium, coming in 4th, a fraction behind Francois Delecour in a Ford. However, the result equaled the Czechs' previous best achievement at Monte Carlo.

Tennis now and let's go Down Under to the Australian Open where Daja Bedanova's fine run came to an abrupt end at the hands of 6th seed Serena Williams. Conqueror of 9th seed Elena Dementieva in the previous round, Bedenova could find no answer to the power of the younger of the Williams' sisters and was overturned easily in straight sets 6-2 6-2. Williams goes on to face Martina Hingis in the quarter-finals.

Bedanova was the last Czech singles player - male or female - to be eliminated from the Open.

Finally football and the Czech Football Association have announced stringent reforms to the refereeing system for Gambrinus League matches. The changes were prompted by fierce criticism from the public and media of performances by officials during the first half of the league season.

The Head of the CFA's Referee's Commission, Ludek Macela, promised that the worst offenders would be replaced in time for the Spring kick-off and that he welcomed press participation in the newly established analytical section.