Women’s Sports Column 23-29 April

netball2It’s still all go in the world of women’s sport. The newspapers are full of it (not). Well actually they are, full of the crisis enveloping British Cycling. That’s because it’s scandal and has the potential to be titillating. As for match reports, scores and achievements, not so interesting.

Still, here I have news from triathlon, football, cricket, netball, swimming, taekwondo, cycling and athletics, – plus a classic “and finally”

Wales’ Non Stanford staked her claim for Rio gold by winning the World Triathlon Series event in Cape Town on 24 April. She took the title in 59 minutes, 49 seconds, seven seconds ahead of England’s Jodie Stimpson, with Bermuda’s Flora Duffy in third.


The women’s Super League season is back up and running with Manchester City and Chelsea stamping their authority already.

Birmingham City 0–2 Manchester City

Three out of three for Manchester City as they took the points at Birmingham this week. Daphne Corboz scored the first after Nikita Paris had hit the post to go in one up at half time. In the second half Manchester took control, but it wasn’t until stoppage time that they sealed the points with a Jane Ross header.

Notts County Ladies 2-2 Reading Women

Notts County came from behind to earn a point against a strong Reading side. The visitors took the lead after only seven minutes through a long-range shot from Helen Ward. County equalised from a Jess Clarke penalty after Fern Whelan had handled. Reading took the lead for a second time through a headed goal from Kirsy McGee. But County didn’t give up and the classy Clarke lobbed the Reading goalkeeper on 64 minutes to snatch a point. It won’t be much consolation for either side, though, as both are still looking for their first win of the season.

Liverpool 2-2 Sunderland

In contrast, both Liverpool and Sunderland remain unbeaten this season as they fought out a keenly-contested draw. Liverpool must have thought they were home and dry as they took a 2-0 lead through Caroline Weir and Laura Coombs, but Sunderland were not to be outdone.   Brooke Chaplen scored just before half time to get the Lady Black Cats back into it and then netted a second at the beginning of the second half to earn the draw. Liverpool looked to snatch it at the end, but couldn’t convert their chances.

Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea

Chelsea looked very impressive as they easily put away a poor Arsenal side. Mini-Messi, Fran Kirby scored twice – the first a neat lob over Sari van Veenendaal in the Arsenal goal and the second thumped in from just three yards after a scramble.


The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) awards took place this week.

Izzy Christiansen was named PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year 2016.

The Manchester midfielder has had a stunning twelve months. She scored six times in the last seven games to help City finish second in the league. She also scored on her debut for the senior England side against Estonia in September.

Beth Mead was named the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year 2016.

In 2015 Beth finished as top scorer in FA WSL1 with 12 goals in 14 games for Sunderland. She was named FA WSL1 Players’ Player of the Year and Young England Player of the Year. She played in the 2014 Under-20 World Cup in Canada and is now training with the senior England squad, although she is yet to make her senior debut.


The shortlist for the 2016 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award has been announced this week.

The players are:

Gaelle Enganamouit (Cameroon)

Amandine Henry (France)

Kim Little (Scotland)

Carli Lloyd (USA)

Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)

The award is given by the World Service. You can vote online or by text. The closing date is Monday 9 May. For more information on the shortlisted candidates see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/36102460


This Bank Holiday weekend sees the start of the new Royal London One-Day Championship

It could well be the last, as next year the Kia Super League will not only comprise a T20 tournament but a 50 over one too. The current county players will be keen to do well if they are to break into the Super League. Can anyone topple Yorkshire from top spot in Division One?

The first round of fixtures in the top two divisions are as follows:

Division One

Sunday 1st May 2016

Middlesex v Surrey at Eastcote CC

Somerset v Kent at Taunton CC

Staffordshire v Berks at Wolverhampton CC

Warwickshire v Sussex at Edgbaston Foundation Ground

Monday 2nd May 2016

Staffordshire v Somerset at Meakins CC

Surrey v Berks at Reed’s School

Sussex v Kent at The Saffrons, Eastbourne

Yorkshire v Warwickshire at Harrogate CC

Division Two

Sunday 1st May 2016

Essex v Wales at Billericay CC

Hants v Devon at Hursley Park CC

Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire at Welbeck CC

Monday 2nd May 2016

Essex v Devon at Felsted School

Lancashire v Nottinghamshire at Wigan Sports Club

Leicestershire v Wales at Empingham CC


The semi-finals of the Vitality Netball Super League have been decided. The last round of results were:

Saturday 23 April

Loughborough Lightning 55-75 TeamBath

Hertfordshire mavericks 48-52 Surrey Storm

Team Northumbria 60-47 Celtic Dragons

It was an amazingly tight finish at the top, with Thunder top and Mavericks, Storm and Bath all finishing on 30 points. Final placings had to be decided through goal average. The semi-finals are this weekend and will be:

Saturday 30 April

Manchester Thunder v Team Bath (Thunderdome) 4pm

Surrey Storm v Hertfordshire Mavericks (Surrey Sports Park) 6pm

Both games will be live on Sky Sports.


Qualifying for Rio, for both Olympics and Paralympics, is in full swing, particularly in swimming.

Among those to achieve the qualifying standard time this week was 12-year old Abby Kane, who set a new British record in the heats of the S13 100m backstroke with a time of 1 minute 11.92 seconds. She then broke this in the later heats to take it to one minute 11.19 seconds.

Steph Slater also qualified in the backstroke in the S3 category.

Ellie Simmonds and Bethany Firth also broke their own world records to secure their Rio berths. Simmonds, who has already won four Paralympic golds, qualified for the S6 400m freestyle with a time of five minutes 18.69 seconds.

Firth beat her own record of 2 minutes 4.44 by 0.74 of a second to qualify for the S14 200m freestyle.


Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones came back from injury with a vengeance this week to win gold at the German Open.

She won four bouts in total in the -57kg category– winning by default in the final as her Canadian opponent Ivett Gonda withdrew.

Bianca Walkden also took gold in the +73kg category.

The European Taekwondo Championships take place in Switzerland in May.


The London Marathon took place last Sunday. Jemima Sumgong of Kenya took the title in a time of two hours 22.58 seconds. Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia was second two hours, 23.03 seconds and Florence Kiplagat from Kenya third in a time of two hours, 23.29 minutes. Sumgong recovered from a fall, hitting her head in the process before picking herself up to make her way through the field to win.

The Marathon was also a trial event for qualifying for Rio. Alyson Dixon and Sonia Samuels finished as the top British women in 13th and 14th respectively. They had already secured their places by running the standard.

In the women’s wheelchair race, the amazing Tatyana McFadden won her fourth consecutive victory in a time of one hour 44.14 seconds, only 0.01 seconds ahead of Manuela Schar from Switzerland, with Wakako Tsuchida of Japan a further one minute 14 seconds behind.


Now to the cycling. Every time I write something, there’s another development, but here’s the story to date. I think it’s not too dramatic to say that British Cycling is in crisis, even though it insists it isn’t. It’s also safe to say that the sport is split straight down the middle. And with fewer than 100 days to go to Rio, it would be redundant of me to say that they need to get their act together and sort it out as soon as possible.

I reported last week that Jess varnish had been dropped from the Performance team because, according to technical director Shane Sutton, she “had not made the necessary gains in performance compared to the rest of the world.” Varnish countered with claims of gender discrimination including that she was told to “go and have a baby” by Sutton.

Since then Sutton has been suspended pending an investigation and in the latest turn of events he has resigned his post. Further claims and counter-claims have arisen, including accusations of Sutton’s attitude toward para-cyclists and to other female riders.

Inevitably, some have come out in favour and some against and we certainly haven’t heard the last of it. Things were further complicated by a separate scandal this week when it was suggested that some elite British Cycling gear, including a top-range bike, were being sold on e-bay.


And finally, a 12-year old girl “accidentally” ran a half marathon this week (believe me I’d know if I’d run a half marathon by mistake). Lee was supposed to be running a 5km in Rochester in the US, but she turned up just as the half marathon runners were setting off and joined them thinking it was her race. Her parents were worried when she didn’t turn up and a police motorcycle tracked her down, but by that time Lee was determined to finish the 13 mile race. She completed in a time of two hours, 43 minutes and 31 seconds.

Isn’t that a better “And finally” than reading about Bernie Ecclestone’s inanities last week?

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