Sports News

By Ian Willoughby

I've been into sport since I was a kid and I have never seen any game in any sport being decided by the toss of a coin - but that is precisely what happened when the Czech Republic's ice hockey team played Sweden in the Baltic Cup in Moscow on Tuesday. When the score stood at 3:3 after overtime the Russian referee decided - most unconventionally - to toss for it rather than go to penalties. The Czechs won the toss - the "official" score 4:3. Of course the Czechs were delighted and the Swedes were fuming. The Czech coach Josef Augusta suggested that the ref had never seen a Baltic Cup tournament in his life - a Swedish daily said it was an unprecedented scandal.

The Baltic Cup is the Czech Republic's last tournament before the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in February. The squad for the Olympics is being announced on Friday. One player who is expected to be named - to the surprise of some people - is the Pittsburgh Penguins' Jan Hrdina. Apparently he will get the place because of his old Penguins team-mate Czech captain Jaromir Jagr, who says he needs players around him who can adapt to his style of play.

Moving on to rally-driving and Czech made Tatra trucks are currently being prepared for the 2002 Total Dakar Rally, which begins on Friday week. Two Tatras are taking part. One will contain the Tatra Team which has won the truck category six times under the leadership of Karel Loprais. The other team is made up of two Czechs and a Brazilian. The rally is due to end on January 13.

Football now and the Czech Footballer of the Year is to be announced on December 27 - a short-list of ten has been drawn up. Most pundits seem to believe that there is only one serious contender - the young Borussia Dortmund forward Tomas Rosicky.

Figures from the world of Czech football world are to pay their final respects to the Czech player Josef "Pepi" Bican at a ceremony at Prague's Narodni Dum on Thursday night. Bican, who is regarded as the greatest Czech goal-scorer of all time, died last week at the age of 88.

Jan Zelezny is regarded not only as the greatest Czech to ever throw a javelin - he is considered the world's greatest athlete ever in the sport, and has a list of medals as long your arm. You might think that Zelezny - who is 35 - would retire soon having achieved everything in his sport. Not a bit of it - the javelin keeps me young, says Zelezny.