Sports News

Photo: CTK

In Sports News: the Czech Republic come close to an embarrassing early exit from the World Ice Hockey Championships but scrape through by taking a point from Canada; motorcyclist Lukas Pesek is the first Czech ever to win a 125 cc Grand Prix race; things remain extremely tight at the top of the Czech football league, with a last-minute goal keeping Liberec in front; Sparta goalie Jaromir Blazek gets a dream move abroad at 34; and injuries force 2002 Olympic champion Ales Valenta to retire.

Czechs scrape through to quarter-finals at hockey championships

Photo: CTK
After defeats to lowly Germany and neighbours Slovakia, the Czech Republic came close to a shock early exit from the World Ice Hockey Championships in Russia. Luckily the Czechs managed to avert what would have been a huge embarrassment; they needed to take at least one point in their game against Canada on Sunday to be sure of reaching the quarter-finals and one point is what they got, with the game ending 3:3 and the Canadians winning 4:3 in extra time. But three times the Czechs had been in front, and forward Tomas Plekanec says he believed they would take the match.

"After three goals I thought we'd got it all wrapped up, that they wouldn't get back into the game. They got a lucky goal, out of nothing, but in the end we got through and we're there."

The Czech Republic will now face either hosts Russia or Sweden for a place in the last four.

Jagr out of Stanley Cup playoffs but Hasek closing in on semis

Czech megastar Jaromir Jagr will have to wait another year for another crack at winning his third Stanley Cup. Jagr's New York Rangers lost to Buffalo on Sunday, leaving the latter 4:2 winners of the quarter-final series. Meanwhile, legendary goaltender Dominik Hasek is close to the semis - his Detroit Red Wings lead their series 3:2 over San Jose.

Motorcyclist Pesek first Czech to win 125 cc Grand Prix race

Lukas Pesek,  photo: CTK
Motorcyclist Lukas Pesek has become the first Czech to win a 125 cc Grand Prix race in the 58-year history of the category. After his victory in the China Grand Prix on Sunday, the Prague-born 21-year-old tops the riders' standings.

Little divides teams at top of Czech league with four games to go

Slovan Liberec - Plzen,  photo: CTK
Things remain extremely tight at the top of the Czech football league. Sparta Prague increased the pressure on their rivals with a 3:1 win over Slovacko on Saturday. That put them briefly on top, before Slovan Liberec returned to first place on Sunday, after a last-minute goal gave them a 1:0 victory over Plzen. Mlada Boleslav moved into third after a 2:0 win over Brno. With four games remaining, Liberec have 53 points, Sparta 52 and Mlada Boleslav 50. Slavia Prague will leapfrog to third place on 51 points, if they can beat Jablonec on Monday evening, after the recording of this programme.

Sparta goalie Blazek gets dream move abroad at 34

Whether they win the league or not, Sparta will be looking for a new goalkeeper in the summer. After seven years at the club, Jaromir Blazek has just agreed a two-year contract with Germany's Nuremberg. Blazek is delighted with the move, saying that at the age of 34 he had given up on his dream of playing abroad.

Chelsea sign another goalkeeper, aged 16

Blazek is number two in the Czech national squad to Petr Cech, who has won a reputation as the best goalkeeper in the Premiership in three seasons at Chelsea. Now the club has agreed terms with another Czech keeper, although if he ever displaces Cech it won't be for a few years yet; Jan Sebek is just 16, and joins Chelsea from non-league Tachov on July 1. Another Czech teenager joining a gigantic club is Jan Habrle; the 18-year-old midfielder has joined Italian champions Inter Milan from Hradec Kralove.

Olympic champion Valenta quits due to injury problems

The 2002 Olympic champion in freestyle aerial skiing Ales Valenta has announced he is quitting competitive sport. Valenta, who is 34, suffers from problems with both his back and knees, and said continuing could have led to permanent health problems. Alongside great cross country skier Katerina Neumannova and legendary ski jumper Jiri Raska, Ales Valenta is the only Czech to have ever won gold at the Winter Olympics in an individual sport.