Women’s Sports Column 22-28 October

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It’s that time again – more women’s sports news than you can shake a stick at.   This week we have stories from cycling, cricket, football, tennis, rugby, horse racing, boxing and golf.  Also some sad news in “And finally”, but hopefully it will also give us the chance to recognise some particular achievements from a very particular woman.

Cycling

There were more medals for Britain’s women in the European Track Championships in Paris.  The day two tally stood at three.

Katie Archibald won two golds to add to her silver in the elimination race.  In the individual pursuit she finished four seconds ahead of her opponent, Justyna Kaczkowska, from Poland

She had already posted a personal best in qualifying.

Then she won her second gold in two nights as she took the omnium title with Dutch rider Kirsten Wild in second and Lottie Kopecky from Belgium in third.

Emily Kay and Emily Nelson won silver in the Madison.  They lay fourth with just 10 laps to go when they took maximum points in the final sprint to take the silver.  The winners were Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D’Hoore of Belgium.

In other events Elinor Barker finished fifth in the points race, but Rachel James fell in the final of the keirin.

Horse racing

 Josephine Gordon has become only the third woman to become Champion Apprentice jockey.

But it’s good to see her ambitions do not rest there.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“I think in the next 15 years there will be a woman who becomes champion jockey,

“Hopefully it will be me. At this time, it’s probably quite unrealistic for me but that would be the biggest dream. I didn’t think I could achieve being champion apprentice.”

Female winners of the Champion Apprentice Jockey:

2005 Hayley Turner (tied with Saleem Golam) – 44 wins

2012 Amy Ryan – 40 wins

2016 Josephine Gordon – 50 wins

Football

Scottish football

Glasgow City Ladies have been crowned Scottish Women’s Premier league champions for the tenth successive season.

They only needed a point to ensure the title stayed at the Excelsior Stadium, but it was clear they wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than a win.  This they accomplished, defeating Hibernian Ladies 3-1.  Sarah Crilly opened the scoring after ten minutes and the lead was doubled when Savannah McCarthy headed a second.

Claire Shine put the tie past Hibs with the third before the away side pulled back a consolation goal through Siobhan Hunter.

Glasgow City could still make it a league and cup double when they face Hibs again in the Scottish Cup final on 6 November.

 Scotland 0-7 Netherlands

Scotland began their warm-ups for next year’s Euros with a crushing defeat against Netherlands in a friendly at Livingston.

Bayern Munich striker Vivianne Miedema got the first, but there were no further scores until first-half stoppage time when first Lineth Beerensteyn and then Miedema with her second put the visitors 3-0 up going into the break.

It was more of the same in the second-half with Scotland rarely venturing up the field.  On 66 minutes Netherlands made it four when Renee Slegers poked in, and then it was five through Ellen Jansen.

Scottish goalkeeper, Shannon Lynn was injured in the scoring of the fifth and had to be substituted with Gemma Fay taking over.

But things did not improve as the Netherlands put another two past the home side, Shanice van de Sanden scoring the sixth and Jackie Groenen the seventh to make it a thoroughly miserable night for the Scots.

 English football

By contrast, the Lionesses have seen their unbeaten run stretch to nine matches with two decent performances in friendlies against France and Spain this week.

 England 0-0 France

England knew the visitors would provide a tough test and so it transpired.  It was a tight first half of few chances, with England’s Lucy Bronze having the best, but she headed wide from a free kick.

The second half was equally tense with both defences on top and neither able to break the deadlock.  Toni Duggan did put the ball in the net but was adjudged to have used her hand in the build-up.

It was a good defensive display, but up front England lacked bite.  France were not fielding a full-strength team and Mark Sampson will be aware that, certainly in attack, France will be much more of threat in the Championships next summer.

 Spain 1-2 England

Spain may some way below England in the world rankings, but they are always a tough opponent, particularly at home.

England took the lead when a shot (or possible cross) from Karen Carney was deflected into the net by Marta Torrejon Moya.

England captain Steph Houghton then curled in a peach of a free-kick to double the lead.

Torrejon pulled one back, but England held on for the win.

Off the Pitch

Arsenal Ladies have announced that their three Spanish players, striker Natalia and midfielders Marta Corredera and Vicky Losada, are to leave the club at the end of the season.

Corredera has signed for Atletico Madrid, but both Losada and Natalia have not yet revealed their new clubs, although Natalia said on social media that she was looking for a new challenge in Madrid.

Losada and Corredera had been at Arsenal for just one season, while Natalia signed from Bristol Academy in December 2014.

The FA has announced it aims to double the number of women involved in football by the end of the decade.

FA Chief Executive, Martin Glenn, announced that the women’s game is the “prime candidate” for investment.

There is due to be a statement on an FA Cup TV deal worth more than £800m over six years.

The FA also helps that moving the FAWSL from summer to winter will improve coverage and gates.

My favourite line of the interview is with reference to England’s third place at the 2015 World Cup

“Unusually for an England team, we overperformed at a tournament.”

For that sentence alone I applaud the FA’s thinking.  But, and I’ve said this many times before, the announcements, initiatives and money have to be backed up with ongoing support.

He says all the right things; breaking down barriers, changing perceptions, getting support from parents and clubs, but the talk is not enough.

I implore the FA not to just fling money at the situation and hope that some of it sticks – back up your monetary input with time, personnel, expertise and anything else women’s football needs to actually come through with the targets.  Don’t expect money alone to do the job.

Cricket

The England squad for the Sri Lanka tour has been announced.

There is a recall for middle-order batter Fran Wilson.  Sophie Ecclestone is unavailable due to school commitments and Anya Shrubsole is still recovering from her neck injury and is not included.

Before they reach Colombo the squad will be in Abu Dhabi for a six day training camp that will also include some of the England Senior Academy.

England will play four ODIs in Sri Lanka, the final three of which will count towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

England squad:

Heather Knight, captain (Berkshire)
Tammy Beaumont (Kent)
Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire)
Georgia Elwiss (Sussex)
Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire)
Alex Hartley (Middlesex)
Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire)
Amy Jones (Warwickshire)
Beth Langston (Yorkshire)
Laura Marsh (Kent)
Natalie Sciver (Surrey)
Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire)
Fran Wilson (Middlesex)
Danielle Wyatt (Sussex)

Additional player for Abu Dhabi camp

Georgia Adams (Sussex)
Kate Cross (Lancashire)
Alice-Davidson-Richards (Kent)
Sophia Dunkley (Middlesex)
Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire)
Georgia Hennessy (Warwickshire)
Hannah Jones (Surrey)
Emma Lamb (Lancashire)
Bryony Smith (Surrey)

Sri Lanka fixtures:

9 November – 1st ODI (Sinhalese Sports Club)
12 November – 2nd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
15 November – 3rd ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium)
17 November – 4th ODI (R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium

South Africa v New Zealand series

At the point of last week’s column, New Zealand had taken an unassailable 4-1 lead with two games to go.  Here’s what happened in the last two matches:

22 October Paarl

South Africa pulled one back in the sixth game in Paarl.  In a rain-affected game reduced to 39 overs, South Africa won the toss and put New Zealand in to bat.  This proved to be a good decision as they skittled out the tourists for 130 in 33.3 overs.  Katey Martin provided sole resistance with 65 not out with Masabata Klaas taking 3/32 off eight overs and Moseline Daniels and Odine Kirsten two each.

South Africa replied in sensible fashion and reached their target with eight balls to spare.  Top scorer was Mignon du Preez with 44 and South Africa won by five wickets.

24 October Paarl

New Zealand were not to be outdone though and won the seventh match in Paarl by 126 runs.  Suzie Bates won the toss and batted.  They posted an excellent 273/7 off their 50 overs with Katey Martin again starring with 81.  She was well supported by Amy Satterthwaite with 53 and Maddy Green with 46.

This was too stiff a target for South Africa to chase and they were all out for 147 in 45.5 overs.  Joint top scorers were Lizelle Lee and Odine Kirsten with 22.  The bowling damage was done by Erin Bermingham with 3/18 off 10 with Lea Tahuhu 2/36 off 7 and Satterthwaite 2/15 off 4.5.

New Zealand took the series 5-2.

Tennis

WTA Finals in Singapore

We now know three of the four quarter-finalists in the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the red group Angelique Kerber has finished top with three wins from three, with Dominika Cibulkova in second.

In the white group Svetlana Kuznetsova has qualified with the final place to be decided between Agnieszka Radwanska and Karolina Pliskova, who play each other in the last round robin game on Friday.

Semi-final line-up

Kuznetsova v Cibulkova

Kerber v Radwanska or Pliskova

Off the court

British number one, Johanna Konta, has won the WTA award for Most Improved Player 2016.  It has indeed been a breakthrough year for Konta; reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January and then winning her first WTA Tour title at Stanford in June.

Her rise through the rankings has been marked; in 2015 she was at 147 in the world.  This year she has made it has high as ninth and is currently tenth.

The WTA Player of the Year award went to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.  She is currently world number one and won her first and second Grand Slams (Australian and US) this year.  She won a silver medal at Rio and was runner-up to Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

In other news, Maria Sharapova has been excluded from the WTA singles rankings as she has not competed in enough tournaments in 2016 to be eligible for a ranking.

She will return to the rankings after she has served her ban and has played three tournaments next year.

Boxing

Irish boxer Katie Taylor will make her professional boxing debut in November.

She has signed a professional contract with Matchroom boxing and will appear at the SSE Arena, Wembley on 26 November.

The fight will be live on Sky Sports.

Taylor has been considering her options for some time after failing to win an Olympic medal in Rio.

Promoter Eddie Hearn said,

“Today marks a significant day for our sport with the news that Katie is joining the professional ranks,

“She is one of the most decorated amateur boxers of all time and a public icon in Ireland. I met Katie for the first time last week and was fascinated by her desire to not just win world titles but to break down the barriers of women’s boxing; she is an incredible role model.”

Golf

Blue Bay LPGA tournament (China)

After leading from the off, Australian Minjee Lee duly took the title at the Blue Bay tournament at the weekend.   She carded a final round 70 to finish on -13, winning by just one shot from USA’s Jessica Korda.

Third was Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, with her compatriot Pornanong Phatlum tying with Caroline Masson of Germany for fourth.

Britain’s Charley Hull finished a further place back in sixth on -5.

Rugby Union

It was round six of the Women’s Premiership last weekend.  Bristol are looking nigh-on invincible as they won again, but the chasing pack haven’t given up as the weekend saw wins for second placed Lichfield and another big win for Worcester Valkyries who lie in third.

Results were as follows:

Wasps Ladies 19-66 Worcester Valkyries
Richmond Women 27-33 Bristol Ladies
Lichfield Ladies 42-16 DMP Sharks
Saracens Women 15-31 Aylesford Bulls Ladies

For a more detailed review of last weekend’s game please read my report for WSUK here.

New Zealand Black Ferns 67-3 Australia Wallaroos

This is a massive result, and not just by number of points for New Zealand as they continue to dominate their antipodean neighbours.

They scored 11 tries to nil in their 14th consecutive victory over the Wallaroos.

Full back Selica Winiata scored four tries and Kendra Cocksedge a try and four conversions.  The Kiwis were 31-3 up at half-time and there was no way back.

Ash Hewson put over a solitary penalty for the visitors.

There is a great deal of argument in Australia at the moment regarding the clash of Sevens v fifteens.  There has been plenty of comment that Australia is guilty of concentrating their efforts and resources in the shorter form to the detriment of the full game.  This may have brought home the Rio gold in Sevens, but Australia hadn’t played a full test since 2014.  And seeing this score, it’s no wonder the comments have been made.

And finally,         

And finally, the death was announced this week of Junko Tabei.   Not heard of her?  Neither had I.

But Tabei was the first woman to climb Mount Everest.

The Japanese climber had been suffering with cancer and died in a hospital near Tokyo at the age of 77.

Tabei was the first to reach the summit of Everest in 1975 when she was 35.  She was part of a 15 strong party – all women.  When they left, she said, they faced criticism,

“We were told we should be raising children instead.”

In the end she did both, carrying on family life and climbing in parallel.

She founded the Ladies Climbing Club of Japan, which had the slogan, “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”  No mean feat for women living in a restrictive Japanese society.

In 1992 she became the first woman to climb the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on the seven continents.

By 2008 she had climbed the highest mountains of 56 countries.

But she was also involved in environmental campaigning, was a major voice in the campaign for sustainable mountaineering and was the Chair of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, which is dedicated to the protection of mountain environments.

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