Women’s Sports Column 7-13 May

Charlotte-Edwards-award-300x197Plenty more interesting stuff this week, and although we’d love to see it in the mainstream press emblazoned all over the back pages, it’s not, so I’m happy to say you can read it all here  instead.

This week’s stories come from cricket, judo, netball, tennis, football, rowing and diving, plus another groaner from tennis in “And finally”.

Only one story for me this week (don’t worry, I will cover more).

England cricket captain Charlotte Edwards retired from international cricket on Wednesday. Needless to say I immediately put finger to keyboard to add my contribution to the thousands of words produced on that day in tribute to this brilliant cricketer:

http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/news/end-of-an-era-as-england-captain-charlotte-edwards-retires-from-internation.

At the time there was some debate about why she had made the announcement – I said, “Did she fall or was she pushed?” Unfortunately it became clear later in the day that it was the latter. She admitted that it was “a complete shock” as she revealed that Head of Women’s Cricket at the ECB and new Head Coach Mark Robinson informed her that they wished to take the captaincy away from her. Apparently she thought she would be able to continue in the team, but then was further stunned to find that she was not to be part of Robinson’s plans in any way.

I have real doubts as to the wisdom of this move, as I outline in my piece above. This round-up is not the forum for this discussion, but I would just say that Edwards still has plenty to offer. Her England career, in my view, has been brought to a premature end. Please read my piece for a list of Edwards’ biggest achievements.

My favourite Twitter tribute comes from cricket writer Vithushan;

“She fought to play, she fought to win, then fought again & won even more. Charlotte Edwards fought so those after her wouldn’t have to.”

In better cricket news, the ECB announced this week that the England team will travel to Jamaica in October to play five one-day matches against T20 World Champions, West Indies.

The first two games will be at the Trelawny Stadium and the other three at Sabina Park in Kingston. If anyone would like to pay me to go out to Jamaica to cover this series, I am happy to do it (seriously).

 

News, good and bad, from judo this week. Terrible news emerged today that Scottish Commonwealth silver medallist judoka, Stephanie Inglis, is in a coma after a motorbike accident in Vietnam. She had been teaching English there and was on her way to the school in Ha Long in NE Vietnam, when it is thought her dress caught in the wheel of the bike and she was dragged off the machine. She suffered extensive head injuries in the accident.

In competition news British judoka Alice Schlesinger won her first Grand Slam event since 2012 when she beat Marijana Miskovic Hasanbegovic from Croatia in Baku this week in the -63kg category just 27 seconds into the final.

There was also a silver medal for Nekoda Davis in the -57kg category.

In a fitting finale for the netball Superleague season on Saturday, defending champions, Surrey Storm, retained their title in a pulsating victory over Manchester Thunder 55-53 at the Copper Box in London.

It looked to be all over by half-time with Storm’s 32-19 lead, but Thunder mounted an incredible comeback which nearly led to the win, but they fell just short, leaving Storm hanging on to take the title.

In the third place play-off Team Bath beat Hertfordshire Mavericks in another tight game 49-48.

I don’t say this often, but at this point I would like to congratulate Sky Sports on their coverage of the netball this season. It has been committed and regular and of an excellent standard. No wonder netball is one of the fastest growing sports for women in Britain.

 

The Madrid Open last weekend was claimed by world number seven, Simona Halep, as she beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4.

Some good signs for British women’s tennis at the Italian Open in Rome this week. British number one, Johanna Konta reached the third round with some impressive tennis, but ultimately she will be disappointed with her exit at the hands of Misaki Doi of Japan 4-6 7-5 6-2. Doi is 22 places below Konta in the world rankings. However, her recent form has secured her a seeding for the French Open.

Heather Watson had to come through qualifying to get into the main draw. In the first round she recorded an excellent win against world number 18 and home favourite, Sara Errani, 6-4 3-6 6-0. Unfortunately she couldn’t repeat this form in round two and lost to world number 36 Barbora Strycova, 6-4 6-2.

In other tennis news it was announced that Andy Murray has split with his coach Amélie Mauresmo. Since giving birth to her first child last year, Mauresmo has struggled to combine her coaching commitments with being French Fed Cup captain and commitments to her family.

Needless to say the announcement was the cue for those with a sexist agenda to cry out that he should never have appointed a woman in the first place. But Murray has been vigorous in his defence of Mauresmo, pointing out that such issues do not only affect women, citing the case of Stefan Edberg who gave up coaching Roger Federer to spend more time with his family. He also insisted that the two years spent with Mauresmo have developed both his physical game and mental approach.

Two games to catch-up on in the FAWSL.

Sunday 8 May

Chelsea 6-3 Liverpool

A goal-fest at Wheatsheaf Park saw Chelsea Ladies put six past Liverpool Ladies take the points to maintain their winning start to the season.

Liverpool went ahead in the match through a goal from Zelem, but the Blues came back to be 4-1 up at half-time with goals from Carney, Kirby, Spence and Aluko.

Liverpool were better in the second half but couldn’t convert their chances. Chelsea showed them how to do it as Kirby and Spence each got their second to take them to a convincing win.

Notts County Ladies 0-1 Birmingham City Ladies

Notts County couldn’t follow up on their good win against Liverpool last week as a single goal from Emily Westwood gave Birmingham City the win at Meadow Lane.

The teams couldn’t be separated at half-time, but some sloppy defending from County saw Westwood head in from Jo Potter’s free kick.

 

At the European Rowing Championships in Germany over the weekend, Britain took seven medals in total (men and women).

Helen Glover and Heather Stanning retained their women’s pairs title and there was also gold for the women’s eight who beat the Netherlands by 0.37 to take the title.

Katherine Grainger and her new partner Vicky Thornley could only finish fourth in the women’s double sculls.

Kat Copeland and Charlotte Taylor missed out on the A final of the lightweight women’s sculls but finished second in the B final on Sunday.

 

It was also the 2016 European Aquatics Championships this week, held at the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre in London.

This year is the first that mixed competition has been included.

Britain’s Georgia Ward and Matty Lee won team bronze alternating 10m platform and 3m springboard to score 353.85 from their six dives. Gold was taken by Russia’s Nadezhda Bazhina and Viktor Minibaev with 413.30 points with the Ukrainian pair of Iuliia Prokopchuk and Oleksandr Gorshkovozov in silver position with 396.40.

Grace Reid and Tom Daley won gold in the mixed 3m synchronised event with a score of 321.06. Silver went to the Italian pairing of Tania Cagnotto and Maicol Verzotto and bronze to Nadezhda Bazhina and Nikita Shleikher of Russia.

 

And finally, I was listening to BBC 5 Live Sports Extra’s coverage of the men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray when a discussion ensued about scheduling. Barry Flatman, the “expert” summariser was bemoaning the fact that the men’s final was at a strange time on the Sunday, while the women’s was at a better time on the Saturday. His comment was, “perhaps the women’s final could be moved to the morning and it can be played as a preamble to the men’s”. Yes. Really. He really said that.

 

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