Sports News

Katerina Neumannova, photo: CTK

In Sports News: cross country skier Katerina Neumannova wins the Czech Republic's first medal at the Winter Olympics in Turin; eighteen-year-old speed skater Martina Sablikova is satisfied with seventh place in her first Olympics; ski jumper Jakub Janda finishes a poor 13th, while Nikola Sudova and Lukas Bauer are also disappointed; and - away from Turin - javelin legend Jan Zelezny has announced he is retiring this year.

Silver for Neumannova first Czech medal in Turin

Katerina Neumannova,  photo: CTK
Cross country skier Katerina Neumannova took the Czech Republic's first medal at the Winter Olympics in Turin on Sunday, silver in the 15 km pursuit. Neummanova, who already had three Olympic medals to her name, was agonisingly close to her first ever gold, but was overtaken on the final stretch by Kristina Smigun of Estonia. The Czech, who has two more events in Turin, had this to say after Sunday's race.

"It's a silver medal from the Olympics, so it's the perfect start. It means I can be more relaxed going into my next events...I've achieved something, we have a medal. But of course, gold is gold and I was very close, but Smigun was better."

Young speed skater Sablikova pleased with seventh place

Martina Sablikova,  photo: CTK
Another Czech in action at the weekend was speed skater Martina Sablikova. In her first Olympics event, Sablikova - still just 18 - finished a respectable seventh in the ladies' 3000m. She said the ice in Turin was a little slow for her liking, but she won't be going home dissatisfied.

"The way I look at it the last time I skated here I made a time of 4 minutes 11 seconds and this time it was 4.08, so that's an improvement. I was hoping to finish in the top eight, so I'm really happy with seventh place."

Judges criticised as Sudova comes sixth in moguls

Nikola Sudova,  photo: CTK
One Czech competitor who won't have been happy to finish down the rankings is Nikola Sudova, who came sixth in the ladies' moguls. Questions have been asked about the low number of points she received for one jump they call the "D spin X", and Sudova's coach went so far as to describe the work of the moguls judges as a poor advertisement for the discipline. Her younger sister Sarka Sudova finished 26th.

Unlucky 13th for ski jumper Janda

Jakub Janda,  photo: CTK
Ski jumper Jakub Janda, meanwhile, went into the Turin games carrying the hopes of the Czech nation, after a season in which he won several World Cup events and shared first place in the Four Hills tournament. So it was an absolutely huge disappointment on Sunday when Janda - the favourite - finished a very poor 13th in the individual normal hill event. The Czech said the conditions in Turin were perfect and the fault was all his.

Skier Bauer finishes 10th after setting pace in 30 km pursuit

Lukas Bauer,  photo: CTK
Another Czech who might have been expected to do better was cross country skier Lukas Bauer. The 28-year-old set the pace in the men's 30 km pursuit for much of the race before fading and eventually coming in 10th. Bauer later criticised what he called the "laziness" of the other competitors, who bided their time and preserved their energy on a difficult wet course.

Javelin legend Zelezny finally calls it a day

Jan Zelezny,  photo: CTK
The great Jan Zelezny has just announced that the forthcoming athletics season will be his last. Zelezny - who turns 40 in June - has three Olympic titles to his name, and is widely considered the greatest athlete in the history of the javelin.