Sports News

By Ian Willoughby

We begin today with ice hockey and the Czech Under 20 team have had a disappointing Under 20s World Championships - the competition has been taking place in the east Bohemian towns of Pardubice and Hradec Kralove. The Czech Republic won the last two World Championships and were hoping for a hat-trick, but it wasn't to be - they lost 3:1 to the Finns in the quarter final. Coach Jaroslav Holik was philosophical - he said the Czech Under 20s had used up all their luck in the last two championships. He also said his days as coach of the team were over.

Football now and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder Tomas Rosicky has been named Czech Footballer of the Year. At 21, Rosicky is the youngest player ever to have been given the award. Rosicky joined Dortmund from the leading Czech club Sparta Prague almost a year ago - for what was then a Czech record of almost half a billion crowns.

The new coach of the Czech national side Karel Brueckner was named manager of the year. Sparta Prague goalkeeper Petr Cech - who broke the Czech clean-sheet record earlier in the season - was named talent of the year. And the veteran former Czech international Miroslav Kadlec, who is 37, won the oddly named personality of the league award. Kadlec plays for Drnovice.

The English club West Ham are reportedly interested in buying the 27-year-old Sparta defender Vladimir Labant, who is Slovak. If he signs for West Ham, Labant will join another former Sparta defender, Tomas Repka at the club.

There has been a great deal of speculation in the sports pages lately as to the fate of Ostrava coach Josef Jarabinsky, who had recently been tipped to coach the Czech national side. Jarabinsky is reported to be close to taking over at one of the biggest clubs in his native Slovakia - Slovan Bratislava. Ostrava meanwhile say they will try to force Jarabinsky to honour his contract, which is until the end of the season.

Moving on to tennis, and three Czech players - Bohdan Ulihrach, Jiri Novak and Radek Stepanek - have reached the quarter finals of the ATP Tour's Qatar Open in Doha. Stepanek took the biggest scalp - he beat Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic. Ulihrach won the Qatar Open last year.

And finally, the Czech cross country skier Katerina Neumannova leads the World Cup once again, following her second place showing in the 1500 metres free sprint at Salzburg, Austria on Saturday.