Sports News

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By Ian Willoughby

Following a successful 2001 Ilona Hlavackova was named Czech Swimmer of the Year at a ceremony at Prague's Brevnov monastery on Wednesday. Hlavackova won gold in both the 50 and 100 metres backstroke races at the European short-course championships in December. She also broke three European records. Hlavackova, who swims for the Bohemians sports club, has just got back from intensive training in South Africa - in three weeks she swam 160 kilometres.

Moving on to handball - the team sport which resembles football but you use your hands - and the Czech Republic are out of the European Championships in Gothenburg, having lost 29:20 to an experienced Russian side on Wednesday. By the way, the Czech goalkeeper has an unfortunate surname - he's called Slaby, or Weak.

Following a fantastic Australian Open, in which he reached his first Grand Slam semi final, the Czech tennis player Jiri Novak has lost in the first round of the Milan Indoor competition. He was beaten two sets to one by the Armenian Sargis Sargsian. Bohdan Ulihrach is also out of the competition, having lost to Britain's Greg Rusedski. Michal Tabara has had more luck - he knocked out Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. Novak and Ulihrach are in the Czech Davis Cup team which is due to take on Brazil in the Moravian city of Ostrava next week.

The decathlete Tomas Dvorak has pulled out of a competition in Tallinn, Estonia. Dvorak has minor ankle problems and is not fully fit and has decided to not risk starting his season so early.

Football now and as the end of the mid-season winter break approaches several top Czech clubs have been playing warm-up tours abroad. Sparta Prague are just back from a tour of Spain, Viktoria Zizkov are in Portugal and Bohemians are in France.