Sports News

Jan Zelezny, photo: CTK

In Sports News: the closing weekend of the Athens Olympics was disappointing for the Czech Republic, with Jan Zelezny finishing ninth in the javelin and other athletes narrowly missing out on medals; the Czech ice hockey team are preparing for their opening game at the sport's World Cup; Tomas Galasek looks set to miss the Czech football team's first World Cup qualifier next weekend.

No last great performance as Zelezny ends brilliant career in Athens

Jan Zelezny, photo: CTK
People around the Czech Republic were rooting for Jan Zelezny on Saturday evening, though, at 38, the javelin legend couldn't pull one last great performance out of the bag, finishing ninth with a throw of 80.59 metres, some way short of the world record of 98.48 he set back in 1996. So, sadly no fairytale ending in Athens to the career of the greatest athlete in the history of the javelin, but his achievements - three Olympic gold medals in a row, three World Championship wins and that world record - will go down in history. Zelezny said he finished poorly because he made mistakes, not because of his fitness.

"I made a lot of mistakes here, and that's why I finished where I did. I didn't throw as far as I could have, which is always disappointing. I wasn't competing just for myself but for a lot of other people, people who did so much for me during the year. I feel really bad about about that, it's sad."

On Friday evening the leading Czech female javelin thrower, Nikola Brejchova, came agonisingly close to winning a medal, only to find herself fourth, when a competitor beat her by a mere six centimetres. Brejchova had been in line for a silver medal until the sixth and final round of throws.

Martin Doktor, photo: CTK
Earlier on Friday, canoeist Martin Doktor, who took two gold medals at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, came fifth in the 500m. That disappointment came 24 hours after Doktor was just over a second away from bronze in the 1000m. He told reporters he didn't want to see a canoe for a long time, and would devote his attention to his family and their garden.

So the final Czech tally from the Athens Games: One gold medal for Roman Sebrle in the decathlon.

Three silver medals, for Lenka Smidova in sailing's Europe category, Lenka Hykova in the 25m pistol shooting and the team of Tomas Karas, Jakub Hanak, David Jirka and David Kopriva in the men's coxless quadruple sculls.

Four bronze medals, for Libor Capalini in the modern pentathlon, Jaroslav Baba in the high jump, Katerina Kurkova in the 10-metre air rifle and Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek in the two-man kayak slalom.

It was the first time the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) had come away from the Olympics with only one gold since Melbourne in 1956.

Czech ice hockey players aiming to win World Cup as tribute to Hlinka

Milan Hejduk with Nicklas Lidström in friendly match, photo: CTK
The Czech ice hockey team play their opening game in the World Cup against Finland in Helsinki on Monday evening. The Czech team - featuring many of the country's NHL stars - are being coached by Vladimir Ruzicka, following the tragic death of Ivan Hlinka in a road accident two weeks ago. Several of the players have said they want to win the cup as a tribute to the late legend of Czech hockey.

Galasek set to miss first World Cup qualifier against Dutch

Bad news for the Czech football team: defensive midfielder Tomas Galasek looks set to miss the opening World Cup qualifier against Holland on Wednesday week, after sustaining a knee injury in training at his club, Ajax Amsterdam. Coach Karel Bruckner has often described the 31-year-old as irreplaceable, and there is no obvious choice to fill Galasek's position.

Bad boy Simak scores first goal for Sparta

In the Czech league, midfielder Jan Simak - who famously went AWOL from Germany's Leverkusen last season - scored his first goal Sparta Prague in their 3:1 win at Blsany on Saturday. Their other goals came from Pavel Pergl and Lukas Zelenka. Sparta scraped into the Champions League last season with a 2:0 extra time win over Ferencvaros, after losing 1:0 in the first leg in Budapest.

Elsewhere in the domestic league, Teplice beat Drnovice 2:1 and Ceske Budejovice won 3:0 at home against Mlada Boleslav, while the derby between Ostrava and Opava ended 1:1.