Yes, indeed, it's time for the sport now, and this week, unfortunately, there has not been much for the Czech Republic to celebrate in sporting events.
Tennis first, and the year 2000 continues to be a lackluster year for Czech tennis. Two of the country's top male hopefuls, Jiri Novak and Bohdan Ulihrach, were both knocked out of the St. Petersburg Open this week. Bohdan Ulihrach succumbed to second seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the first round, 6-3, 6-1, in a mere 51 minutes, while Jiri Novak was defeated, also in the first round, 6-0, 6-2, by American Jared Palmer.
On the football front, things have also not turned out well for Czech teams this week. Sparta Prague was knocked out of the first round of the Champions League on Tuesday, when they were beaten 1-0 by the Italian side Lazio. Veteran player Fabrizio Ravanelli's first-half goal put the Italians in the lead and the Czechs never recovered. Sparta midfielder Vladimir Labant said after the game that Sparta had its chances in the game, but that they were simply unable to break through. Out of all 6 of the matches played in the first round, Sparta Prague have ended up with a disappointing three points at the bottom of the table.
Slovan Liberec play host to English side Liverpool on Thursday, in the second leg of their UEFA Cup pairing, after losing the first leg 1-0 away. Liberec did put up a fight, and it was not until the 87th minute that Emile Heskey managed to slip a goal past them. Liberec will no doubt hope to repeat their performance in front of a home crowd, and keep their chances of staying in the UEFA Cup alive.
Away from current sporting events, Czech legend Emil Zatopek is in critical condition in hospital after suffering a stroke. The four-time gold medal winner, now aged seventy-eight, has suffered from serious health problems recently, and has already spent a significant amount of time in hospital this year. Mr. Zatopek's condition has been described as very serious.
Emil Zatopek won the hearts of the Czech people when he took four gold medals, first at the London Olympics in 1948 when he won the 5,000 metres and the 10,000 metres, and then in Helsinki when he won the marathon treble and the javelin. He has remained extremely popular, and no doubt many people in the Czech Republic are keeping their fingers crossed for him.