Sports News

By Ian Willoughby

We start with swimming and the news that the Czech swimmer Ilona Hlavackova has done very well at the European short-course championships in Antwerp, Belgium. On Thursday Hlavackova set a new European record of 58.59 seconds in her heat for the 100 metres backstroke. The next day, Hlavackova not only took gold in the final but beat her own record, setting a new time of 57.75 seconds.

But the championships were not over for Hlavackova. On Saturday she won the 50 metres backstroke - again setting a new European record. Hlavackova completed the race in 27.06 seconds. Afterwards, Hlavackova said that while she was happy she felt she could do even better in the future. She is now preparing for her next swim at the 2002 World Cup in Berlin in January.

And Hlavackova wasn't the only Czech to bring home a medal. Kvetoslav Svoboda won silver in the men's two-hundred metres free style and Daniel Malek won two bronze medals - for the men's one-hundred metres breaststroke and the two-hundred metres breaststroke.

Moving onto skiing and the Czech cross country skier Katerina Neumannova came fourth in the 10 kilometre classic at Davos, Switzerland on Sunday. So no medals this time for Neumannova but previous successes mean that she still leads the World Cup. Neumannova is of course one of the Czech Republic's great hopes for February's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Ice hockey now and the Czech Republic made light work of Finland on Sunday, beating them 4:0 in Helsinki. The game was a friendly ahead of the Baltic Cup in Moscow in which the Czechs play Sweden on Tuesday, Finland again on Thursday and hosts Russia on Saturday. The Baltic Cup is the third stage of the Euro Hockey Tour, and the last one before the Winter Olympics. The Czech Republic are currently fourth - and last - in the Euro Hockey Tour.

And finally gymnastics and the 18-year-old Czech gymnast Jana Komrskova won a bronze medal in the vault at the World Cup in Glasgow, Scotland at the weekend. It was her biggest success to date, said her father and trainer, Jan Komrska.