Women’s Sports Column 20-26 August

netball2Welcome to this week’s sports column.   The Rio Olympics may be over and we are all crying into our beer because of it, but life (and sport) goes on – plus the Paralympics are just around the corner.

So, in addition to my last few Rio highlights, we also have stories from cricket, football, indoor netball (Nets), netball, rugby union and tennis.

As regards Rio highlights, for me it’s the hockey, first and foremost.  I was pacing up and down the room for most of the second half of the final and watching through my fingers for the penalty shoot out.  Maddie Hinch!  What guts, what calm, what a player.

Nicola Adams also is on my list.  Wish she’d stop doing that thing running her hand through her hair, but a great performance from a great champion – and an amazing role model.

I’m going to come back to Simone Biles again and again, because she was so stunning.

Also Jade Jones.  Taekwondo  is a bizarre sport I’m never actually going to understand, but I know that Jade Jones is flipping good at it.  And good on Bianca Walkden for overcoming the disappointment of her semi-final to take a bronze.

From a political point of view there is a case for saying the Olympics should never have been awarded to Rio – the levels of poverty, the money spent on venues that may or may not be redundant in the coming years, and all of the problems leading up to the Games – it’s a wonder they ever took place at all.  But as a spectacle it was excellent – not sure if I’ll ever get over that green pool though……

On to other sports news..

In cricket, the inaugural Kia Super League has come and gone.  By and large it was a success, but far too short.

Finals Day took place on Sunday 21 August at Chelmsford.  As described last week, it was a slightly strange format in that only the top three teams qualified.  The second and third place teams played each other in a “semi-final” for the right to meet the Vipers, who finished top of the league, in the final.

Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning

Lightning 124/7 (20 overs)

Storm 128/5 (19.3 overs)

Storm won by 5 wickets

Lightning never looked to have enough runs on the board as they struggled to post a paltry 124 off their 20 overs.  Ellyse Perry made a sparkling 64 (she was just coming into form as the tournament ended), but there were no other significant batting contributions.  The Storm bowling was tight with Stafanie Taylor the pick of the bowlers taking 3/31 off her four overs.

In the end it was tighter than it should have been as the Storm didn’t chase too hard to reach their target.  Taylor again took the lead with 34, then Heather Knight with 52 and Fran Wilson broke the back of it.  There were a few nervous moments when Lizelle Lee (0) and Knight were out in the space of three balls, but really the result was never in doubt.

 

Southern Vipers v Western Storm

Western Storm 140/5 (20 overs)

Vipers (143/3 18.5 overs)

Vipers won by seven wickets

The final followed a similar format to that of the semi.  The Vipers won the toss and inserted the Storm.  Although they posted 140, there was a general feeling that this would not be enough.  Taylor scored 35 and Rachel Priest 57, but Knight was out for only six, and this was, in the end, the key wicket.    Fran Wilson chipped in again with an unbeaten 16.  Arran Brindle, looking rejuvenated in this tournament, took 2/15 off her four and Suzie Bates 2/37.

The Vipers never seemed phase by their chase.  Bates and Charlotte Edwards put on an opening partnership of 78 with Georgia Adams, Sara McGlashan and Lydia Greenway all contributing as they won with seven balls to spare.

In the end the title went to the best, most consistent team.  They were favourites before the competition started and never looked like being bested.

 

In other cricket news, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has voted to increase the daily allowance of the Indian women’s team to be in line with the men’s.  They will now receive $125 per day on international tours and $100 during a home series.

 

In tennis, Laura Robson is through to the third and last round of qualifying for the US Open.  World number 247, Robson, beat Su Jeong Jang of Korea 6-3 6-2 in round one and world number 142 Isabella Shinikova of Bulgaria in round two 6-4 6-4.  She will now face Tatjana Maria from Germany for a place in the first round.

Tara Moore lost in second qualifying match to Germany’s Antonia Lottner 1-6 6-3 6-2, after beating Tereza Mrdeza 6-4 6-1 in the first.

No such travails for Johanna Konta who is seeded 13 in the US Open main draw, her highest seeding to date.  Top seed is Serena Williams.

The last grand slam of the year starts on Monday 29 August.

 

I don’t mind admitting that I am a complete newcomer to the world of indoor netball, otherwise known as “Nets”.  Many of you will know I have been writing a four-part history of netball for the WiSP Sports and as I was researching the final part – netball in the 21st century, I came across the phenomenon that is Nets.

And, as it happens the Nets World Cup is taking place in New Zealand as we speak!    There is so much going on and so many categories that I haven’t got time or space to go into detail.   So can I suggest you check out the World Indoor Netball Association’s (WINA) Facebook page for all the details: https://www.facebook.com/worldindoornetballassociation/. (It’s safe to say that Australia and New Zealand will win everything).

 

The first ever (traditional) Netball Quad series begins at the end of the month and will be televised on Sky Sports.

The four teams involved are England, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and it will be held in Australia and New Zealand.

Four of the games will be shown on Sky’s new channel, Sky Sports Mix.  Part of Mix’s remit is to show more women’s sport, so watch this space to see if they come through with this promise.

Saturday 27 August

0400-0600: Live – Australia v South Africa (Sky Sports 3)

0600-0800: Live – England v New Zealand (Sky Sports 3)

 Wednesday 31 August

0800-1030: Live – South Africa v New Zealand (Sky Sports Mix)

1100-1300: Live – England v Australia (Sky Sports Mix)

 Sunday 4 September

0430-0630: Live – England v South Africa (Sky Sports Mix)

0630-0830: Live – New Zealand v Australia (Sky Sports Mix)

 

England Women U20 39-12 Canada Women U20

In the second of this three-match series in Nottingham, England ran in seven tries to emerge victorious again and give them an unassailable lead in the series.

They were 22-5 up at the break through a hat-trick of tries from Abi Dow and a fourth from Sally Stott.  Zoe Harrison kicked one conversion.

Kasselle Menin scored Canada’s only points of the half.

In the second half Poppy Leitch went over again for England and Dow scored her fourth.  Sarah Bern scored England’s seventh try with Lagilagi Tuima kicking a conversion to seal a convincing win.

Jordyn Orlando scored a consolation try for Canada.

 

In football, US goalkeeper, Hope Solo has been suspended from international football for six months as a result of her outburst after the States’ defeat to Sweden in the quarter-finals of the Olympic football tournament.

She called the Swedes a “bunch of cowards” and that the better side did not win on the day.  US Soccer President, Sunil Gulati called the comments “unacceptable”.

In reality Solo will only miss two games against Thailand and Netherlands in September, although it is possible more matches will be scheduled.  She will be eligible for selection again in February 2017.

 

And finally, Ryan Lochte’s punishment for “exaggerating” the mugging incident in Rio is apparently to be chosen to be on Dancing with the Stars (the US version of strictly Come Dancing).  This is a somewhat different punishment from the six months ban handed out to Hope Solo.  Some have made this a sexist issue, but actually I feel it may be the respective governing bodies that may be at the heart of it.

USA Swimming released a statement:

“The last five days have been difficult for our USA Swimming and United States Olympic families. While we are thankful our athletes are safe, we do not condone the lapse in judgement and conduct that led us to this point. It is not representative of what is expected as Olympians, as Americans, as swimmers and as individuals.

“That this is drawing attention away from Team USA’s incredible accomplishments in the water and by other athletes across the Olympic Games is upsetting. The athletes and their remarkable stories should be the focus.

“We’re extremely thankful of the support and efforts from the USOC, Department of State and U.S. Consulate General throughout this process. USA Swimming will undergo a thorough review of the incident and determine any further actions, per our Code of Conduct.”

So they’re certainly not in any hurry to dole out sanction, unlike US Soccer, who were very quick off the mark.  Mind you, Hope Solo has form…..

So although I’m usually the first to shout “Sexist foul!”, on this occasion I may just think twice.

No column for the next couple of weeks as I am away, but will hopefully be back on 16 September.

 

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Women’s Sports Column 13-19 August

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column. I’d like to thank you all for your responses to last week’s edition – very kind.  After the thousands of words last week, this one will be a bit shorter!

This week I have another “highs and lows” of the Olympics, plus stories from cricket, rugby union and sailing from Abby Ehler.

Highs

Hockey. Seven from seven as we speak with the gold medal match against Netherlands to come. So, guaranteed silver. But, as you watch them you think they really wouldn’t be satisfied with silver. And you can’t blame them. The semi-final against New Zealand was a stunning performance; New Zealand simply hadn’t got any reply.

The GB team battled, defending incredibly well, but also taking the attack to the black sticks until their opponents crumbled and they realised they were beaten long before the final hooter.

And what strength!  And determination? First Crista Cullen was hit in the mouth, followed shortly afterwards by a head injury to Georgie Twigg.   But after disappearing for treatment they were back into the fray, no messing, no histrionics.

Helen Richardson-Walsh took the penalty stroke that sealed that victory but immediately limped off with a hamstring injury.

Team GB will have to work their socks off and take all their chances to beat a Dutch team going for their third gold in a row. By the time you read this it may be all over, but whatever happens it will be the best performance by a British Olympic women’s hockey team and we can all appreciate that.

Laura Trott. Need I say more? This week Laura became Britain’s most decorated female Olympian as she claimed gold in the omnium to add to the team sprint gold she won with Jo Rowsell-Shand, Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald last week. This took her medal total to four, all gold.

But it was in the omnium that she showed her complete domination of the field. She finished second in the first event, the scratch race and then won the individual pursuit and elimination race to end the first day’s races with an eight –point lead over Belgian Jolien D’Hoore, with American Sarah Hammer in third.

On the second day she was second in the time trial and then won the flying lap. By the time she was into the points race she had a lead of 24 points.

Her opponents were unable to close the gap at all and she ended on 230 points, with Sarah Hammer in second on 206.

She’s an inspiration and a role model and if this doesn’t encourage thousands of youngsters to get on their bikes, then I don’t know what will.

Sophie Hitchon won bronze in the hammer. This is the first time a British woman has won a medal of any colour in this event. She also took the British record with her final throw to move from fifth to third with a distance of 74.54m.

Simone Biles (again). Please overlook, if you can, all of those headlines screaming “she is human” when she took a mere bronze in the beam when she wobbled and put her hands on the apparatus. Actually, Sanne Wevers’ gold medal routine was, in fact, stunning and the win well deserved. Of course she’s human! But Biles recovered and came back to claim her fourth gold medal on the floor. An amazing athlete with the potential to do it all again in four years.

Lows

There have been plenty of instances of sexist commentary and derogatory remarks about female athletes this week. They have been well-documented elsewhere. But here are a couple of my “favourites”.

Inverdale v Murray

Everyone’s number one choice must be John Inverdale. There is a theory out there that people are out to get him, but if he didn’t keep making these gaffes they wouldn’t have any fuel for the fire, would they?

Anyway, he starred this week in an interview with gold medal winning Andy Murray. When he said to Murray,

“You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals. That’s an extraordinary feat, isn’t it?”

Murray returned with,

“Well, to defend the singles title … I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each but hadn’t defended a singles title before.”

It appears that Inverdale had completely forgotten the Williams sisters!

Some have rushed to his defence, claiming that he was talking about singles, but it’s not that clear. After all, Inverdale has form – remember Marion Bartoli?

Nothando Vilakazi, defender in the South African women’s football team, came in for some disgusting trolling on social media just because she appeared to put her hands over her crotch when she was standing in a defensive wall. This led to such gems as:

“That ain’t no woman!”

“That’s 100% a bloke!

“The look when you forgot to pretend you don’t have balls”

“That’s a boy not a girl – how did they get away with that?”

(all responses from men, by the way).

Vilakazi played for South Africa at London 2012 and plays domestically for Palace Super Falcons. Don’t know about you, but I’m sick of this kind of comment.

Cricket

Away from the Olympics, the Kia Super League finalists have been decided. The remaining results were as follows:

Friday 12 August

Haslegrave

Loughborough Lightning 168/6 (20 Overs)

Surrey Stars 134 all out (19.5 overs)

Lightning won by 34 runs

Taunton

Southern Vipers 137/3 (20 overs)

Western Storm 140/2 (17.5 overs)

Storm won by 8 wickets

Old Trafford

Yorkshire Diamonds 166/6 (20 overs)

Lancashire Thunder 71 all out (15 overs)

Diamonds won by 95 runs

Sunday 14 August

Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Southern Vipers 156/4 (20 overs)

Loughborough Lightning 97 all out (18.5 overs)

Vipers won by 59 runs

Headingley

Yorkshire Diamonds 118 (20 overs)

Western Storm 119/4 (16.3 overs)

Storm won by 6 wickets

The final table looked like this:

Team Played Won Lost tied points
Vipers 5 4 1 0 11
Storm 5 4 1 0 9
Lightning 5 3 2 0 8
Stars 5 2 3 0 5
Diamonds 5 1 4 0 3
Thunder 5 1 4 0 2

Clear favourites must be the Vipers, as they were before the tournament started. But who can say – it will be very much up to who performs on the day.

It has been an excellent first tournament and hopefully it will go from strength to strength next year, particularly when the 50 over competition is introduced.

Finals day is on Sunday 21 August at Chelmsford. It is different from the format of the T20 Blast in that has only three contenders. In the semi-final Lightning will play Storm and the winner of this goes on to play the Vipers who finished top of the group.

BBC Test Match Special is covering finals day on 5Live Sports Extra. The programme begins at 10.45am with the semi-final starting at 11am.

 

In other cricket news, there was a big announcement from New Zealand Cricket this week. It will be offering 15 retainer contracts to its squad (rising from 10) and pay will range between $20,000 and $34,000. The current rate is $10,000 – $12,000. Match fees will be $400 for an ODI and $300 for T20s.

They have signed a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association to this effect.

NZC Chief Executive, David White, said,

“Better remunerating our best women’s players fits in well with NZC’s strategic priority of making cricket a game for all New Zealanders, and our commitment towards inclusivity and diversity. Internationally, women’s cricket is going from strength to strength and this new MoU recognises that evolution.”

The first contracts to be allotted will be announced on 19 August. New Zealand face South Africa away in October, then play a series at home against Pakistan. They then play Australia home and away.

 

Rugby Union

The England Under-20s rugby team are playing a series against Canada in Nottingham over the next couple of weeks.

The first game took place on Thursday 18.

England 46 – 8 Canada

The England U20 scored eight tries in the first of this three-match series in Nottingham.

England scorers:

Jess Breach (3), Kelly Smith, Lottie Holland, Millie Wood, Sarah Bern and Chantelle Miell. Zoe Harrison kicked two conversions and Langi Tuima, one.

Canada scorers:

Taejah Thompson one penalty, Zana Everett one try.  

Understandably, England U20 Head Coach Jo Yapp was happy as she told the England Rugby website,

“We are really pleased with the performance, the girls worked really hard to put into practice what we have been working on in this summer camp.

“It was great to see new players such as Lagi, Hollie and Ellie winning their first U20 caps. We now focus on the next game as we know Canada is a strong side and we are expecting them to regroup and come hard at us on Monday.”

England Women U20 v Canada Women U20 games at Nottingham Trent College remaining games:

Monday 22 August, KO 5.30pm Friday 26 August, KO 5.30pm

 

Sailing by Abby Ehler

The Magenta Project took part in a number of activities during last week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, including having the privilege of awarding the Ladies Day Trophy to British Paralympian Helen Stodel.  The trophy recognises the outstanding contribution, commitment, or achievement of women in sailing.  Hannah is a British Paralympic sailor who has represented GB three times in the summer Paralympics and, in September 2016, will compete once again with her team mates John Robertson and Steve Thomas representing GB at the Paralympics, having campaigned tirelessly for selection winning the Para World Sailing Championships in Melbourne along the way.  Hannah is a wonderful ambassador for both women in sailing and disabled sailing.  When she’s not Sonar sailing she also lends her skills as a coach and tactician to The Sirens, a privately funded female yacht racing team dedicated to building a presence on the club circuit as a competitively focused all female team.

Another highlight of the week was taking girls from the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation out on the M32 high performance catamaran.  The girls selected, all aged 16-18 years were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb on board with world-class and ocean racing sailors: Abby Ehler, Annie Lush, Sam Davies and Cecile Laguette for a 3 hour sail during the Slingsby Gin Ladies Day at the famous Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight.

Annie Lush said on return to shore: “It was such an amazing opportunity for us to sail with these wonderful girls and see them rise to the challenge of handling the super-fast M32. They are an inspiration themselves.”

All in all Cowes Week was a huge springboard to promote the goals of the Magenta project and its aims to raise the profile of women in professional sailing and inspiring the younger generation to follow.

This week in Rye, New York, the International Women’s Keelboat Regatta is taking place following a 3 year gap in the event due to lack of sponsorship.

Twenty-four teams from around the world will be invited to compete, with the intention of an even ratio of North American and intercontinental teams. – See more at: http://www.ussailing.org/racing/championships/adult/iwkc/#sthash.NzBn5TFH.dpuf

 

And finally, women in sport have enough trouble justifying their existence without other women chipping in. When Sweden beat USA in the Olympics football quarter-final, USA goalkeeper, Hope Solo, called their opponents a “bunch of cowards”, adding “the best team did not win today.”

It may have been said in the heat of the moment, but Solo is old enough to know better. Some of her team-mates have distanced themselves from the comments and Solo herself has now had second thoughts. Later she tweeted,

“Losing sucks. I’m really bad at it.”

Yes Hope, you are.

Sweden will be hoping their cowardice will take them through one more game when they face Germany in the Olympic final on Friday 19 August.

The final instalment of “Back to Netball after 30 years”

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I’m sorry I’ve left all you blog readers hanging for so long. Now I’m in a position to be able to write it again, but unfortunately this will be the last.

I’m not looking for a response to this blog. I’m not touting for sympathy and nor am I throwing my toys out of the pram.

Right, enough waffle, let’s tell you what has happened since I last blogged.

In my previous post I told you that the Fleckney Rogues were hanging by a thread. Since the “Just” scheme finished we had no coach and no matter how we tried we found it too hard to coach ourselves. Numbers dwindled until there were just three of us regularly turning out.

We really enjoyed it actually, made sure we did some drills and practice and some shooting work, but I think in our hearts we knew we couldn’t sustain it.

So when our money ran out, one of our number approached someone in the village who is a netball coach and asked her if she would be interested in starting a new group.

I’m glad to say she absolutely ran with the idea and starting advertising in the village and through Facebook.

Hence on Tuesday night there were 14 of us (including the three ex-rogues) ready to start again.

I was really looking forward to it, but on the way to the session I managed to hurt my foot somehow and I was hobbling. Still, I wasn’t going to let this stop me.

I noticed that the group was largely much younger than me and much fitter-looking, which I suppose should have set the alarm bells ringing.

We started with a warm up and then did some passing drills which were fine. I was still limping but just about managing to keep up.  The coaches were lovely and helpful.

However, it emerged that although some of the attendees hadn’t played netball since they’d left school, there were a number who played every week in other teams and leagues.

It soon became clear that they played at a different level and pace and I was left behind. Ok, so it’s probably just the way I think and I shouldn’t be so sensitive, but I felt old, short, slow and fat.

We played a game for the last half hour and I played in my favourite goalkeeping position. I was pretty awful, but I tried hard even though I was limping.

However, when my defensive “partner” suggested someone take over from me when we were trying different positions, I felt humiliated. I limped up the other end to play shooter (and you all know how good I am at that).

By the time we had finished I knew I wouldn’t be returning to this group. I felt very out of place. It’s no-one’s fault and I hope the group is great success, but I know I’m not going to be part of it.

It sounds like I’m whining, but I’m really not and I’m not bitter. I suffered too much humiliation at school PE go through it again as an adult and so I leave on my own terms. I know I’m not ready for walking netball yet, but I don’t think there’s anywhere else I fit in at the moment. Perhaps if I do get fitter this will change (can’t do anything about being short and old).

I’m carrying on with sport, though. I’m going to return to playing badminton with my husband and going to the gym. I know I’m pretty good at badminton (he’s never beaten me yet) and we play at our own pace. The gym is something I can do on my own, again at my own pace.

I will also keep writing about netball; the Super League, internationals, and some of you may have been reading the history of netball that I have been writing for WiSP Sports (final part to come next week!). I still love the game and I’m glad I had such fun while it lasted. I also hope to keep in touch with the Rogues as they feel like firm friends.

Here endeth the blog!

 

Women’s Sports Column 6-12 August

 

cricket-ballWelcome to this week’s Olympics+ column. As I indicated last week, I can’t keep up with all the stories and results from the Olympics, but I would be remiss if I didn’t report on some of my favourites. So, as well as my highs and lows from the first Olympic week, I also have stories from tennis, cricket, football, sailing and sports politics.

So let’s plunge straight in!

Highs

Cycling

It may just be my age, but top of my list is Kristin Armstrong’s win in the time trial on 10 August. At a mere 42 years, 364 days, she won her third Olympic time trial title in a row in a time of 44:26.42, five seconds ahead of Russian Olga Zabelinskaya in second. Anna van der Breggen, who won the road race earlier in the week, took the bronze. In difficult wet and windy conditions Armstrong looked strongest and most able to cope.

Gymnastics

And while we’re on the subject of age, what about 41-year old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who competed in her seventh Olympic Games this week? She won her first medal in 1992, a team gold for the Unified Team (former USSR). She competed for Germany in 2008, winning a silver in the vault. She now competes for Uzbekistan. There are some great pictures of her with her 17-year old son! Inspirational! At Rio she qualified for the individual vault and finished fifth.

The US gymnastics team wowed everyone this week with their power, talent, grace and style, fitting winners of the team event. Pity the NBC commentator said, when they were having a group discussion, “They might as well be in a mall.” Yes, because that’s all women are interested in.

Judo

Another high for me was been Sally Conway’s silver medal in the judo -70kg class. She was very unlucky to lose the semi-final to Colombian Yuri Alvear but came good in the bronze medal match against Bernadette Graf of Austria, winning by a single yuko to nil.

Rugby Sevens

Finally, the phenomenon that is rugby sevens. Making its first appearance in the Olympic Games this year, the tournament has been a feast of fast-flowing, attacking, heart-pounding athleticism. Australia won the tournament, beating New Zealand in the gold medal match 24-17. The Australians outscored the Black Ferns by four tries to three. Crucially, two of the tries were scored when Portia Woodman was in the sin bin. Woodman still finished top of the try-scoring tree with ten.

Canada took the bronze, beating Great Britain by 33-10. This was a real disappointment for Emily Scarratt’s side which had thrashed the same team in the pool match, 22-0.

All in all a brilliant entry into the Olympic timetable.

And possible British highlights to come include the rowing, track cycling, athletics, hockey, sailing, and it goes on…..

Lows

Top of everyone’s low has to be the crash suffered by Annamiek van Vleuten in the road race on Sunday 7 August. I bet I wasn’t the only one to shed a tear as she lay motionless on the side of the road. The fact that we didn’t get any further information for some time heightened the horrible worry of it all. The rest of the event was a bit of a blur. Happy to say that although Annamiek remains in hospital in Rio, she is improving. It was amazing when she tweeted that she had suffered

“a few injuries and fractures” as if it was nothing. Mind you, I’m not sure I would have borne this tweet with which a kindly chap replied;

“First lesson in bicycling, keep your bike steady…whether fast or slow”.

Gee thanks Martin. That’s a real help; that would never have occurred to me.

Not wanting to sound grouchy about it, but there have been some hideous examples of sexist reporting already, most of which would make classic entries into the “And finally” annals of this column.

The NBC network in the USA is a particular favourite in this category as we have already seen with the “mall” comment:

 Of star swimmer Katie Ledecky,

“some people say she swims like a man”

Of star gymnast Simone Biles

“I think she might even go higher than some of the men”

On Hungarian star swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, after she broke the 400m medley world record,

“Here’s the person responsible” (her husband and coach)

And my personal favourite, NBC’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Miller, on the reason for their broadcast delays;

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and minseries wrapped into one….”

But the ultimate prize goes to the Chicago Tribune. Corey Codgell, a local sportswoman, won bronze in Rio in the trap shooting. Her reward, a tweet from her local paper, the Tribune;

“Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics”.

Need I say more? Classy.

Any woman competing in a hijab has been under scrutiny, particularly when it can be illustrated in such hilarious term of cover-up v bikini at the beach volleyball.

And, somewhat disappointingly, there has been some degree of homophobic chanting, particularly at the football. It has largely been aimed at the USA team, which does contain some lesbian athletes, but the chant of “bicha” seems aimed at them all.

So let’s see what week two brings; some fantastic sport certainly, some distinctly unprofessional comments, probably, but no doubt we’ll all be there glued to the action.

Tennis

Away from the Olympics, a stranger-than-fiction story broke earlier this week when it was suggested that the police are investigating an allegation that British tennis player, Gabriella Taylor, was poisoned during the Junior Wimbledon championships in June.

Taylor withdrew from the tournament during her quarter-final match after succumbing to a mystery illness, spending four days in intensive care, where she was, according to her mother, “close to death”.

Taylor finally returned to training this week.

The police investigation is ongoing.

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news to report this week as the KSL is now in full swing. With only five games to go in the pool stage, things are hotting up and by the end of the weekend we will know who will be at Finals Day on 21st August in Chelmsford. There have been some excellent tight games as well as some one-sided ones, but generally the standard of cricket has been good with plenty of county cricketers making a contribution as well as the more famous England players or international names.

Sunday 7 August

Surrey Stars v Western Storm
Bristol
Stars 161/6 (20 Overs)
Storm 165/5 (19.4 overs)
Storm won by 5 wickets

What a stunning game! Stars have seriously under-performed so far in this tournament so when they hit 161 off their 20, they must have thought their form was about to change. Captain Nat Sciver hit a wonderful 90 not out, but she had precious little back-up from the lower order.

But they didn’t reckon on Stafanie Taylor. When tweeting about this game I ran out of “wows “. Storm got off to a terrible start and were 17/3 in the fourth over. Captain, and in-form all-rounder Heather Knight was dismissed cheaply for just six. Enter Taylor. She and South African Lizelle Lee put on 76 for the fourth wicket before Lee was caught by Sciver off the bowling of Tahuhu for 53. Georgia Hennessey went for just one, but then Taylor and Sophie Luff put on an unbeaten stand of 71 to take the game away from Surrey. Taylor’s innings contained six 4s and five 6s.

Unlucky for Sciver to be on the losing side after such a great innings of 90.

Monday 8 August
Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds
Southampton
Vipers 118/4 (20 overs)
Diamonds 64 all out (16.3 overs)
Vipers won by 54 runs and take a bonus point

Southern Vipers were unbeaten coming into this match and favourites to top the table.

They batted first at the Ageas Bowl and would have been expected to make a big score against the badly-performing Diamonds. But when Charlotte Edwards was caught behind off her first ball from Katherine Brunt, it could have been a different story. Collis, McGlashan and Greenway all followed cheaply and it was left to opener Suzie Bates and former England all-rounder Arran Brindle to build a partnership.

Scoring was difficult on a slow pitch, but the pair worked hard, taking the Vipers to a satisfactory total of 118 with both Bates and Brindle finishing unbeaten on 45.

But, as all cricket fans will know, you can’t judge a total until both sides have batted. At the half-way stage the Vipers could have no idea that their 118 would be more than enough to take the win.

Diamonds have seriously under-performed in this tournament and against the Vipers their batting was abject. The only batter to make double figures was Beth Mooney with 17. Best bowling figures were for Berkshire player Linsey Smith who took 4/10 off her four overs. She was backed up by Bates and Nielsen who took two wickets each.

 

Tuesday 9 August
 
Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder
Guildford
Thunder 102/9 (20 overs)
Surrey 106/3 (15.2 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets with 28 balls remaining

Lancashire have had an up and down tournament, to say the least. Batting first at Guildford they lost Hayley Matthews for a duck after just two balls.

Emma Lamb, Amy Satterthwaite and Laura McLeod tried to take it on. Lamb scored 27 and McLeod 17, but it was Satterthwaite who showed the way, scoring an unbeaten 34. Unfortunately, she ran out of partners, with both Dottin and Wyatt out for ducks and no-one else getting into double figures. They limped to a disappointing 102.

England spinner Alex Hartley took 3/11 off four while Marizanne Kapp took 2/ 18 from her four.

In response the Stars cruised to the total with 28 balls to spare. Tammy Beaumont scored an unbeaten 45, with contributions of Bryony Smith with 30 and Nat Sciver with 14.

 

In other KSL cricket news, the ECB announced this week that they would be creating KSL Regional Development Centres. They will start this autumn and will provide coaching for up to 120 girls under the age of 16.

This will replace the England Women’s Development Programme for under 15s. It is hoped that the result will be a stream of talent that will play for both county and KSL.

Sport England is contributing significant funds to the scheme as part of their “Reward and Incentive Programme”.

While we love to see any investment in women’s cricket, I still fear for the future of county cricket as more and more emphasis is placed on the KSL, particularly when the 50-over competition begins next season.

 

South Africa won their four-match ODI series against Ireland 3-1.

They took an unassailable 3-0 lead, before Ireland claimed a consolation win on Thursday 11.

1st ODI, 5 August

South Africa 283/7 (50 overs)
Ireland 194 all out (44.5 overs)
South Africa won by 89 runs

2nd ODI, 7 August
South Africa 272/6 (50 overs)
Ireland 204 all out (48.2 overs)
South Africa won by 68 runs

3rd ODI, 9 August
South Africa 260/6 (50 overs)
Ireland 193 all out (45 overs)
South Africa won by 67 runs

Notable because Laura van Wolvaardt became the youngest South African player (male or female) to score a hundred. The 17-year old scored 105 in her team’s series clinching win. Sune Luus also picked up her second five-for in three games with 5/32 off 10 overs.
4th ODI, 11 August
South Africa 143 all out (46.4 overs)
Ireland 146/3 (36.1 overs)
Ireland won by 7 wickets

For the fourth time in a row South Africa batted first, but this time Ireland performed beautifully with both bat and ball to take the consolation win. Kim Garth and Ciara Metcalfe took three wickets each to restrict the Proteas to 143 and Isobel Joyce scored an unbeaten 62 to win by seven wickets with 14 overs to spare.

 

Football

The Continental Cup semi-finalists have been decided this week and among the quarter-finals there was an interesting ”first” when Manchester City Women became the first club to stream a game live on Facebook .   The club has 4.5 million likes on its Facebook page. They played Doncaster Belles in the Continental Cup quarter-final on Sunday 7 August.

First team to qualify for the semi-finals was Arsenal:

Friday 5 August

Arsenal Ladies 3 – 2 Notts County Ladies

Fara Williams converted a last minute penalty at the Hive to send Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the Continental Cup.

The home side took the lead in the eighth minute through a Casey Stoney header, but it was level at half-time when Fern Whelan headed in from Jo Potter’s free kick.

Notts County star striker, Jess Clarke came on after the break and scored just seven minutes into the second half, making the score 2-1.

But with just eight minutes to go, Arsenal sub Kelly Smith struck from 20 yards to equalise.

The momentum was with Arsenal and when County conceded the penalty there was only going to be one result.

Sunday 7 August

Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Liverpool Ladies

Birmingham won 1-0 after extra time

Both sides had chances in regular time at Solihull Moors, but the deadlock was not to be broken.

But it was Birmingham who went all-out in extra time and they were rewarded in the final added minute of extra time injury time (!) when Coral-Jade Haines put the ball past Siobhan Chamberlain to claim the win.

Manchester City Women 4-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Manchester City are looking invincible on all fronts. It may have been 38 minutes before they took the lead, but after they did the result was never going to be in doubt.

The league leaders’ first goal came through Izzy Christiansen in the 38th minute, but they didn’t score a second until the 78th when the in-form Georgia Stanway made it two. Belles pulled one back Marta Bakowska-Mathews just two minutes later, but City were not be outdone.

Two late goals from Toni Duggan and Jane Ross flattered the home side somewhat, but they were easily too strong for a Belles side hit by injuries.

Sheffield FC Ladies 0-2 London Bees

It’s good to see some different names doing well in the cup. London Bees’ surprise win over Chelsea in the last round obviously buoyed them up significantly as they went into this quarter-final.

After a goalless first half, Ashleigh Goddard scored the first for Bees in the 63rd minute with Evie Clarke making sure of the win with a last-minute goal.

This win meant the Bees are the first WSL2 side to reach a Continental Cup semi-final.

 

There has only been one FAWSL fixture this week:

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-4 Manchester City Women

For the second time in week, City put four past a luckless Belles side to keep up their winning run in the top flight.

Jane Ross scored for the leaders in the first minute, with Izzy Christiansen adding a second on the 15 minute mark.

In the second half Lucy Bronze stuck the ball away from a Toni Duggan cross and substitute Daphne Corboz sealed the win with a fourth in the 89th minute.

The Belles are still looking for their first league win of the season.

Sailing

It has been Cowes Week this week so Abby Ehler has been a tiny bit busy! You’ll be glad to know, though, that she’s agreed to write a piece on how it all went, which will appear in next week’s column.

Sporting politics

Two pieces of sports politics this week (if everything else isn’t political):

Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has vowed to involve women in her country in sport.

Her plans include licensing women’s gyms and modifying outdoor spaces so that they are suitable for women to train and play in. She will also look at the recruitment of female coaches, putting women’s toilet and changing facilities in public spaces and the design of sports clothes in line with traditional rules.

The Princess is tipped to take a post at the Saudi General Sports Authority next month and if she does, this could mean a sea-change in the way sport for women is perceived in Saudi Arabia. She is currently in Rio supporting the four-strong women’s Saudi team (up two from London 2012).

 

Russian double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has announced that she is going to run for president of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).

“The chance to help Russian athletes return to the elite is a huge motivation for me,”

“It will be some sort of compensation for not being able to compete in Rio. I want our athletes to take part in international competitions,” she said.

She is looking to replace Dimitri Shlyakhtin when he retires from the role in November.

And finally…..

A couple of different “And finally” pieces this week, in that it’s two campaigns which my readers can get involved in. Firstly, there is a petition out there to try to get the international basketball governing body (Fiba) to allow Muslim players to play in a hijab. The petition was started by Asma Elbadawi, Sudanese player and coach who lives in West Yorkshire and argues that the hijab, turbans and other religious headwear pose no threat to the safety of players. FiFA has already removed its opposition to the wearing of such headwear. The petition has garnered 90,000 signatures so far. If you would like to sign it, here’s the link: https://www.change.org/p/fiba-federation-international-basketball-association-fiba-allow-hijab?source_location=movement

Another campaign underway is that to get netball into the Olympic Games. Netball has never even been a demonstration sport and it’s high time that it was included. Over 80 million people worldwide play the sport. The hashtag to follow on social media is #whynotnetball and again, if you would like to support this campaign by signing the petition, please follow the link: https://www.change.org/p/international-olympic-committee-include-netball-in-the-tokyo-2020-olympics

 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 31 July -5 Aug

Schofield 2It’s Olympics time! Once every four years those of us who love women’s sport revel in the fact that it nearly (I said nearly) gets equal coverage at the Olympics. And we should make the most of it because come September we will go back to being very much second-class citizens.

However, I would still suggest that while you enjoy the Olympic coverage, you do keep a close eye on it. Will the women’s 100m enjoy the same profile as the men’s? Will the women’s football be on as much as the men’s? To be fair about it though, there will probably be more about the heptathlon (come on Jess!) than the decathlon…. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but although it will be good, it won’t be equal and there’s no use pretending it will.

Anyway, lecture over. In this week’s column there are stories from golf, tennis, football, cricket, cycling and sailing. The last couple of “And finally” pieces have been positive, so it’s time to redress the balance with one of those stories you have to read twice before you believe it actually happened……

The Women’s British Open ended with a win for Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand. In winning, she became Thailand’s first major champion. Mirim Lee of Korea had been way in front over the first two days, but Jutanugarn played the more consistent golf over the last two rounds. She took a two shot lead into the final round and was never headed, winning by three shots on -16.

Lee finished joint second with USA’s Mo Martin on -13 with Stacy Lewis on -11. Catriona Matthew, who had been right up with the leaders after the second round, finished joint fifth on -10 with Karrie Webb of Australia.

Home favourite, Charley Hull, could only finish on -5, after a disastrous 75 on Saturday put her out of contention.

 

In tennis, the Rogers Cup was claimed by Simona Halep. She beat Madison Keys in the final, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. It was her third title of the year so far.

Halep also featured in the doubles final with partner Monica Niculescu, but the Romanian pair were beaten by Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

British number one, Johanna Konta was beaten in the quarter-final by qualifier Kristina Kucova, 6-4 6-3. If she had progressed, she would have entered the top 10 rankings, joining Jo Durie, Virginia Wade and Sue Barker as the only British women to have done so. As it is she stands at 13 in the world.

It’s been a busy week in the FAWSL. :

Wednesday 3 Aug

WSL 1

Reading FC Women 1-2 Manchester City Women
Bruton 88                           Christiansen 38, Duggan 80

Sunday 31 July

FA WSL 1

Manchester City Women 3-0 Sunderland AFC Ladies
Stanway 17, 55, 82

Reading FC Women 1-1 Notts County Ladies FC
Follis 65                              Buet 40

Arsenal Ladies FC 1-2 Liverpool Ladies FC
Williams 9                      Van de Sanden 21, Weir 75
FA WSL 2

Durham Women FC 3-0 Watford Ladies FC
Hepple 17, 69
Roberts 65

Aston Villa Ladies FC 0-2 Yeovil Town Ladies FC
Short 4,Heatherson 49

Oxford United Women 4-2 London Bees
Umotong 30, 61          Popadinova 36, 54
Allison 32
Noble 36

Saturday 30 July

FA WSL 1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-1 Birmingham City Ladies
Linnett 61

FAWSL 2

Everton Ladies FC 1-1 Sheffield FC Ladies
Turner 20                        Dale 48

Millwall Lionesses 1-2 Bristol City Women
Babajide 62                      Emslie 10, 67

The quarter-finals of the Continental Cup take place from today into the weekend. Here are the fixtures:

Friday 05 August 2016

19:00 Arsenal Ladies FC v Notts County Ladies FC (The Hive)

Sunday 07 August 2016

14:00 Birmingham City Ladies v Liverpool Ladies FC (Solihull Moors)
14:00 Manchester City Women v Doncaster Rovers Belles (Academy Stadium)
14:00 Sheffield FC Ladies v London Bees (Sheffield FC)

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, and you should have done considering the ECB has gone into overdrive (panic) over the last week or so to promote it, the Kia Super League is up and running.

So far the games have been good and largely tight affairs.

I have, unashamedly done as the ECB has said to do and #showyourcolours, by supporting the Loughborough Lightning, my local team.

The Lightning kicked it all off on Sunday 31 July at Headingley against Yorkshire Diamonds. The away side put in an excellent performance beating the Diamonds by a whopping 43 runs and therefore earning themselves a bonus point.

Loughborough Lightning 128/9 (Devine 52)
Yorkshire Diamonds 85 all out (Grundy 3/21
Lightning win by 43 runs

Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (Taunton)
Thunder 83 all out (18.3 overs) (Taylor 4/14)
Storm 86/6 (15.3 overs) (Knight 23)
Storm win by 4 wickets

August 3

Loughborough Lightning v Lancashire Thunder (Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough)
Thunder 164/8 (Satterthwaite 52, Dottin 42)
Lightning 158 all out (Eccleston 3/23, Matthews 3/25)
Thunder win by 6 runs

I was there to see Lightning’s second match at home against Lancashire Thunder on Wednesday. They lost by six runs after nearly completing an amazing comeback when they needed 91 off the last 10 overs with just four wickets remaining. I wrote a full report of the match for Women’s Sports UK, which you can read here: http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/match-report/lightning-comeback-in-vain-as-thunder-take-the-points-at-haslegrave

August 4

Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds (The Oval)
Diamonds 134/5 (Armitage 43)
Stars 135/4 (Beaumont 47) 18.1 overs
Stars win by 6 wickets

August 5

Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers (Blackpool)
Vipers 132/4 (McGlashan 54 not out)
Thunder 121/7 (Lamb 34, Satterthwaite 31)
Vipers win by 11 runs

Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm (Haslegrave Ground)
Lightning 158/8 (A Jones 46, Perry 44)
Storm 153/5 (Knight 74)
Lightning win by 5 runs

I was also present for this game. It was a much improved performance from the Lightning. The batting was good, bowling much better (especially Ellyse Perry) and the fielding was tighter. There were also fewer extras given away. It was an excellent game – my nerves were shredded three overs from the end when Heather Knight was going so well. Special mention too for the bowling of Sonia Odedra who took two wickets in a over which possibly changed the course of the game.

South Africa played Ireland this week in a two-match T20 series. The tourists are without some of their best players, including Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Dane van Niekerk, who are currently playing in the Kia Super League.

However, Ireland played well in both games, and bowled South Africa out in a low-scoring second match to win and draw the series.

August 1

First T20 International
Ireland 140/4 (Shillington 30, Joyce 31)
South Africa 144 off 20 overs (du Preez 55)
South Africa win by 4 wickets.

August 3

Second T20 International
Ireland 115/7 (Shillington 48)
South Africa 95 all out 19.3 overs (4 run outs)

Ireland win by 20 runs

A series of four One-Day Internationals began on 5 Aug

August 5

South Africa 283/7 (Tryon 92, Wolvaardt 55)
Ireland 194 all out 44.5 overs (Luus 6/36)
South Africa win by 89 runs

In other cricket news, Harmanpreet Kaur has become the first Indian woman cricketer to be signed up by the Australian Big Bash. She will play for reigning champions Sydney Thunder in the next tournament which begins in December.

 

Lizzie Armitstead has admitted that people will doubt she is clean after missing three drug tests. She was suspended and could have missed the Olympics if the first test had not been declared void.

She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for sport, which ruled that the official

“didn’t do what was reasonable and necessary” to find her and complete the test.

If she had not won her case she could have been banned for two years.

The 2016 Ride London Classique was won by Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild. She outsprinted fellow Netherlander Nina Kessler, with Canada’s Leah Kirchmann finishing third. She had already won the Tour de Yorkshire in April.

Sailing with Abby Ehler

In sailing this week Dee Caffari has been leading an all female team, with a mixture of girls from Oman and from the UK competing in the Farr 30 International’s in Barstad, Sweden. Dee has worked with the women’s program within Oman Sail for a number of years with the aim of encouraging the sport of sailing in Oman and providing opportunities for women to excel through sport.  This week’s event in Sweden has been a fantastic training opportunity for the Omani girls to gain exposure to different conditions and to learn from the professionals working with them who include Libby Greenhalgh, Abby Ehler, Kate MacGregor and Liz Wardley.

Next week is the Uk’s largest Sailing event; Cowes Week. This year for the first time The Magenta Project will be at Cowes Week aligning with Slingsby’s Ladies Day providing the opportunity for people to meet the Magenta team, for upcoming female UK talent to experience the high performance M32 catamaran.  Several members of The Magenta Project will be there including  Sam Davies (skipper of Team SCA and Vendee Globe competitor), Dee Caffari (5 times Round the World Sailor and World Record holder) and Libby Greenhalgh who are also all past winners of the Ladies Day Trophy as well as former Team SCA members Abby Ehler (2x Volvo Ocean Race sailor) and Annie Lush (2012 Olympian) will be on hand to share their experiences about the road to becoming professional sailors, balancing families and careers, the dedication and the challenges.

 

And finally, (American) football assistant coaches Jeff Banks and Jim Turner held a female fan event at Texas A&M University recently. There were 700 attendees. Part of the event was a slide show, meant to be educating the audience on various dos and don’ts of the game. But, oh dear. These are the four slides they came up with:

Pass – Blocking rules – the don’ts

  1. Don’t let him inside
  2. Keep your hips down
  3. Don’t go down

Pass – Blocking rules – the dos

  1. Spread them again
  2. Get erect
  3. Stay erect
  4. Bang him hard

Run – Blocking rules – the don’ts

  1. No penetration
  2. Never bend over
  3. Don’t end up on your back

Run – Blocking rules – the dos

  1. Spread your legs
  2. Enter front/not behind
  3. Push hard
  4. Finish on top

Yes, well. No doubt they thought it humorous at the time, but in retrospect how they must be regretting it. Head coach, Kevin Sumlin was not amused and has suspended the pair for a fortnight. In a statement he said,

“There is absolutely no place in our program or in our University community for inappropriate conduct or degrading comments towards women, or anyone, regardless of intent.”

I think we can all agree with that.

The Column will be back next week, although I know I won’t be able to keep up with all the Olympic news. It will, therefore, be a mixture of Olympic and non-Olympic stories, which I hope you will all find interesting. Enjoy the Games