Women’s Sports Column 1-7 April 2017

soccer ballWelcome to this week’s column.  So much going on this week!  News, controversy and results in so many different sports.  Who knew women were doing so much? (Who, indeed….)

So, on we go with stories from tennis, golf, football, cricket, netball, boxing, ice hockey, weightlifting, badminton and the Boat Race.  Plus an “And finally” that is a great news story of footballing women shouting about the need to be more visible.  Plus an “And, and finally” which is not so great.

Tennis

Miami Open

Jo Konta won the Miami Open on Saturday, beating Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets 6-4 6-3 to take the biggest title of her career so far.

She now climbs to seven in the world rankings.

The win has seemingly come at a cost, though.  Konta has now withdrawn from the Charleston tournament, which opens the clay court season, through injury and illness.  The injury is in her shoulder, but the illness has not been specified beyond “sickness”.

Monterrey Open

Naomi Broady progressed to the second round in Monterrey before she was beaten by fifth seed Timea Babos 6-3 6-2.  She had beaten world number 54 Catherine Bellis 7-6 6-4 in the first round.

Heather Watson is through to the quarter final where she will face top seed Angelique Kerber.  She beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1 to get there, after beating Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic 62 6-7 6-4 in the first round.

Football

Republic of Ireland

The biggest news of the week, eclipsing Mark Sampson’s squad announcement, has been the Republic of Ireland women’s team’s threat to strike after revealing their horrendous treatment by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

After listing their grievances the players met with the FAI and after long and hard talks agreement was reached.

Equal pay is often an issue in sport (and life generally), but for the Irish players their issue was any pay at all.  Sixty per cent of the Irish squad are not professional players and they were often out of pocket financially when away playing or training.  They had to share tracksuits, handing them back at the end of games and often got changed in airport toilets.  If they stayed in hotels they were often of a basic standard with no Wi-Fi.  There was little access to strength and conditioning coaching.

The players have now returned to training before they have a game against Slovakia on Monday.

I know it would have not have been a decision taken lightly if the squad had gone through with its strike.  It has been heartening to see so much coverage of this issue – much of it positive.

England

Opinions have been divided this week as to the wisdom of Mark Sampson naming his Euro 2017 squad nearly four months ahead of the tournament.

There are four tournament debutantes, three from champions Manchester City: Demi Stokes, Isobel Christiansen and Nikita Parris, plus Millie Bright of Chelsea.

There are also three players currently suffering with long-term injuries: Alex Greenwood, Fran Kirby and Jo Potter.

The most surprising absentees are Eni Aluko, Rachel Daly, Gemma Davison and Claire Rafferty.  Obviously with four months to go there are chances to replace injured players should the need arise.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Notts County)

Defenders: Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Jo Potter (Notts County), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jade Moore (Notts County), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Arsenal)

Forwards: Karen Carney (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal), Ellen White (Birmingham City)

For me the big omission is Gemma Davison.  When I saw her against Estonia in September she had a stormer.  I think she’s getting better all the time and could very well have peaked to perfection at this tournament.

It has also just been announced that England will play another friendly in the lead-up to the Euros. They will play Switzerland at the Tissot Arena in Biel on 10 June.

Scotland

It has been confirmed that former Arsenal manager, Shelley Kerr, will take over as Scotland Women’s head coach after the 2017 Euros.

Anna Signeul will leave after being in charge since 2005.

Cricket

The ECB announced the allocation of England and overseas players for the 2017 Kia Super League tournament this week.  There will be no Meg Lanning this year and Danielle Hazell will complete a Roses switch from Yorkshire to captain Lancashire Thunder.  Also included in the Thunder squad is Sarah Taylor, which is cheering to see.

The ECB has also (finally) done a deal which will see eight of the Super League games televised.  Unfortunately this will not be free-to-air, but will be on Sky.  In these days when viewers cannot see any cricket on free stations it would have been a real coup if the ECB could have interested any of those channels in the product.

Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross, Danielle Hazell, Sarah Taylor, Jess Jonassen (AUS), Amy Satterthwaite (NZ), Lea Tahuhu (NZ)

Loughborough Lightning: Georgia Elwiss, Amy Jones, Beth Langston, Kristen Beams (AUS), Ellyse Perry (AUS), Elyse Villani (AUS)

Southern Vipers: Tash Farrant, Danielle Wyatt, Suzie Bates (NZ), Hayley Matthews (WI), Dane van Niekerk (SA)

Surrey Stars: Tammy Beaumont, Alex Hartley, Laura Marsh, Natalie Sciver, Rene Farrell (AUS), Marizanne Kapp (SA)

Western Storm: Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Rachel Priest (NZ), Stafanie Taylor (WI)

Yorkshire Diamonds: Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn, Lauren Winfield, Sophie Devine (NZ), Sune Luus (SA), Beth Mooney (AUS)

Netball

It’s seven wins from seven for Loughborough Lightning as they beat their latest opponents, Celtic Dragons at the weekend.  This sees them the only unbeaten team, at the top of the table by three points from Surrey Storm.

Round Seven scores:

Friday 31 March

Sirens 51-45 Team Bath

Saturday 1 April

Team Northumbria 61-39 Severn Stars

Surrey Storm 51-58 Wasps Netball

Monday 3 April

Celtic Dragons 45-65 Loughborough Lightning

Manchester Thunder 59-50 Hertfordshire Mavericks

Round eight is this weekend, with no televised match this week.

Weightlifting

Rebekah Tiler took silver in the snatch in the -69kg at the European Championships this week.  This was Tiler’s first competition since UK Sport removed all funding for British Weightlifting and also her first since finishing 10th at Rio.

She missed out on an overall medal, finishing fourth, just 1kg behind the bronze medallist, Anastasiya Mikhalenka of Belarus.  Anastasiia Romanova of Russia took overall gold in the -69kg category, with Mariya Khylan of Ukraine in silver.

Emily Godley finished eighth in the same category – some performance after coming back from a stress fracture of the back, which happened in December.

Sarah Davies also finished fifth in the -63kg category.

Ice Hockey

Britain’s women’s ice hockey team are currently competing in the World Championship Division Two in South Korea.

They lost their first three games in Group A:

Netherlands 5-4 Great Britain

The Netherlands were ahead after just 31 seconds and were soon 3-1 up.  But Britain came back, making it three all with two goals from Katie Marsden and one from captain Leanne Ganney.

But Britain were unable to capitalise on their resurgence.  The Netherlands scored two more and although Britain pulled another one back through Kim Lane, they couldn’t score again to take it into overtime.

South Korea 3-1 Great Britain

It was a busy match for GB goaltender Nicole Jackson, who had to make 35 saves.  But she was unable to shut out tournament hosts South Korea.  Korea scored twice before Britain got one back through Leanne Ganney.

But the game was taken away from Britain when Kim Heewon scored Korea’s third.

North Korea 3-2 Great Britain

(after overtime)

Great Britain lost their third group game in a row when they succumbed to North Korea in a tight game.

Again Britain went 2-0 down before they brought it back to 2-2 with goals from Angela Taylor and Leanne Ganney.

Britain did claim a point from the game, but Jin Ok’s winner in overtime ensured Britain were bottom of the table after three games.

Great Britain 8-2 Slovenia

It was fourth time lucky for Britain as they pulled out all the stops to beat Slovenia on Thursday 6 April.

Katie Henry scored two goals, as did Katie Marsden, with Angela Taylor providing four assists.

The win takes them up to third in the table with one game, against Australia, to go.  They could still win a bronze medal if South Korea beat North Korea and Britain win against Australia on Saturday.

Golf

There was controversy at the ANA Inspiration event this week when American Lexi Thompson, leading in the final round, was given a four-stroke penalty after a television viewer spotted an offence and reported it to officials.

Thompson was two shots ahead after the twelfth, when she was told the penalty would be imposed.  She went on to birdie the final hole to finish on -14 and take it into a play-off with So Yeon Ryu.

She lost the play-off at the first hole.

The offence actually took place during Thompson’s third round, when she replaced a marked ball in the wrong place.

The LPGA said Thompson had

“breached Rule 20-7c (Playing From Wrong Place), and received a two-stroke penalty. She incurred an additional two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for returning an incorrect scorecard in round three.”

This turned her carded 67 into a 71.

Fans were outraged by the decision and several professionals have voiced their disquiet about the seeming trial by television, including Graham McDowell and Tiger Woods.

Former Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher told BBC Radio “the LPGA had the power to dismiss that person, they should have completely ignored it.”

Badminton

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour won her second title in two months this week when she won the women’s singles at the Orleans International.  She beat Ying Ying Lee of Malaysia in the final 22-20 21-11.

Meanwhile, after getting to the semi-finals of the India Open two weeks ago, Gabby and Chris Adcock have been beaten in the second round of the Malaysia Open.  The seven seeds lost 21-16 21-15 to the unseeded pair from Thailand, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

Off the court, Badminton England has withdrawn from the World Mixed Team Championships due to be held in May in Gold Coast, Australia.  They have cited government funding cuts as the reason behind the withdrawal.

Badminton England performance director Jon Austin said,

“We are working through an unprecedented financial situation as a consequence of the recent funding decisions,”

“We have had to consider the investments we make very carefully.”

Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race

The University of Cambridge was triumphant in the Boat Race on Sunday – their first win since 2012.

The Light Blues dominated from the off, helped by a mistake by Oxford rower Rebecca Esselstein, who “caught a crab” at the beginning.

Cambridge won by 11 lengths in a time of 18 minutes 33 seconds.

Boxing

Nicola Adams makes her professional debut this weekend when she takes on Argentina’s Virginia Noemi Carcamo in Manchester.  The fight is live on BT Sport and the programme starts at 8.30pm.

And finally,

It’s safe to say that women’s football shirts are taking on a life of their own.  First we had the Swedish football team and their inspirational quotes, now it’s the turn of Glasgow City.

Glasgow City have won 10 Scottish titles in a row, but as my loyal readers will know, unless you look and look hard you won’t find any details of their exploits in the mainstream media.

So Glasgow City are fighting back.  On their new away kit they have a new slogan, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

It’s not an original phrase, but it’s none the less true for that.

Club Manager and founder of Glasgow City, Laura Montgomery, said,

“How do girls grow up thinking they can be anything other than sexualised objects, which is how the media currently portrays women?”

She went on to say,

“Every single youth player that we have absolutely idolizes all our first team players and that’s because they want to be what they can see.”

And surely this cannot be a bad thing.  Let’s hope more media outlets see the light (and the point).

And, and finally,

David Moyes – wrong.

No column next week due to the Easter break, but back the week after with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 24 March – 1 April 2017

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  I’m going to have to be brief about it, due to time pressures, but here goes.  Stories this week come from athletics, football, ice hockey, tennis, netball, curling, rugby union, squash and gymnastics.

Netball

It was round six of the Vitality Netball Superleague last weekend.  Storm and Lightning are still unbeaten at the top of the league on 18 points.  Results were as follows:

Friday 24 March

Team Bath 47-38 Team Northumbria

Wasps Netball 52-58 Manchester Thunder

Saturday 25 March

Surrey Storm 69-47 Celtic Dragons

Hertfordshire Mavericks 57-66 Loughborough Lightning

Monday 27 March

Severn Stars 54-45 Sirens

This weekend sees round seven with Sky’s televised match on Monday 3 April being Thunder v Mavericks.  The action starts at 7.30pm.

Tennis

Miami Open

Jo Konta has become the first British woman to get to the final of the Miami Open.

She beat Venus Williams 6-4 7-5 in the semi-final and will now play Caroline Wozniacki in the final on Saturday.

Wozniacki beat Karolina Pliskova 5-7 6-1 6-1.

If Konta takes the title she will rise to seven in the world rankings.

Rugby Union

Bristol finished unbeaten and at the top of the table in the Women’s Premiership.  The final round of matches finished as follows:

25 March 2017

Lichfield Ladies 48-0 Richmond Women

26 March 2017

Aylesford Bulls Ladies 44-17 Worcester Valkyries

DMP Sharks 5-21 Saracens Women

Bristol Ladies 48-7 Wasps Ladies

The unfortunate Lichfield played a marvellous final Premiership game and ended up second in the table, just one point behind Bristol.

Pos Team P W L PD BP Pts
1 Bristol Ladies 14 12 2 338 12 60
2 Lichfield Ladies 14 12 2 251 11 59
3 Aylesford Bulls Ladies 14 10 4 222 9 49
4 Saracens Women 14 9 5 158 10 46
5 Worcester Valkyries 14 6 8 -22 7 31
6 Richmond Women 14 3 11 -274 5 17
7 Wasps Ladies 14 2 12 -375 5 13
8 DMP Sharks 14 2 12 -298 4 12

The play offs will be on 9 April:

12pm Portway Rugby Development Centre

Bristol v Saracens

1pm Cleve RFC

Lichfield v Aylesford Bulls

The Grand Final will be on 23 April at 12pm.

Curling

Team Muirhead were at it again this week as Scotland took bronze at the World Women’s Curling Championships.

They beat Sweden 6-4 to take the medal, while the gold went to Canada as they defeated Russia 8-3 in the final.

Gymnastics

It was the British Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool last week.

Ellie Downie just gets better and better, taking vault, bars and all-round gold medals.

Phoebe Turner won gold on the beam.

There was a surprise result in the floor when the title went to 15-year old newcomer Maisie Methuen, beating Claudia Fragapane into silver.

Football

Women’s Champions League quarter finals

Manchester City Women 1-0 Fortuna Hjorring

City win 2-0 on aggregate.

It was a tight affair at the Academy Stadium and became clear early on that it was unlikely to be a goalfest.  In the end City made one of their few chances pay when Lucy Bronze headed home from a Mel Lawler corner just before half-time.  US star Carli Lloyd has a great chance earlier in the half after speeding through the Danish defence, but she hit it wide.  In the second half she was quieter but had a header cleared five minutes from the end.

In the other games:

Lyon 0-1 Wolfsburg

(Lyon win 2-1 on aggregate)

Paris Saint Germain 4-0 Bayern Munich

(PSG win 4-1 on aggregate)

Barcelona 2-0 Rosengård

(Barcelona win 3-0 on aggregate)

City play cup holders Lyon in the semi-final.

FA Cup quarter finals

Chelsea 5-1 Sunderland

Sunderland took the lead through a Lucy Staniforth penalty, but after that it was all Chelsea.  Two goals from Ramona Bachmann and two from Hannah Blundell plus one from Drew Spence saw Chelsea into the semis.

Liverpool 2-0 Notts County

The home side were two up before half-time, with County unable to respond.  Caroline Weir scored in the third minute with Natasha Harding hitting a second before the break.

The Lady Pies were unable to break down the Liverpool defence in the second half.

Birmingham City 1-0 Arsenal

The holders went out to a single goal from Marisa Ewers.  After a goalless first-half the winning strike came in the 77th minute after Arsenal had missed several chances.

Birmingham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger had a stormer, saving from Kim Little, Danielle Carer and Danielle van de Donk in the first-half and Katie McCabe and Jordan Nobbs in the second.

 Bristol City 1-2 Manchester City

Bristol took the lead as Hayley Ladd headed an unfortunate own goal, but by half-time Manchester were level through Claire Emslie.

Nikita Parris hit the winner just before full-time, when it seemed likely the tie was heading into extra time.

FA Cup Semi-final draw

Manchester City v Liverpool

Birmingham City v Chelsea

Both ties should take place on Monday 17 April.

Athletics

Jo Pavey has been awarded a bronze medal from the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships, after the original second-place finisher, Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegasse was stripped of her title for a doping offence.  American Kara Goucher has been upgraded to silver and Pavey to bronze.

Squash

Laura Massaro won her second British Open title this week when she beat fellow English woman 11-8 11-8 6-11 11-6.

In doing so she became the first English woman for 66 years to win two British Open titles, having first won it in 2013.

Ice Hockey

Three cheers for the US women’s ice hockey team this week.  They were so fed up over the lack of equality with the men’s game that they threatened to boycott their own world championships in protest.

Just two days before the championships were due to begin they called off the protest as it was announced an agreement with USA Hockey had been reached.

The fine details have not been released but are thought to include a new improved pay deal plus better marketing and promotion from the governing body.  There will also be more support for women’s hockey at grassroots level.

Badminton

India Open

Britain’s Chris and Gabby Adcock are through to the quarter-finals of the India Open.  They beat Yang Lee and Hsu Ya Ching of Taiwan 23-21 22-20 to get there.

They face Bodin Isara and Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand in the next round.

But Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith are out of the mixed doubles and Smith and Sarah Walker out of the women’s doubles.

And finally,

A quick tribute to Hazel Irvine, who has announced that she will anchor the BBC’s Masters coverage for the last time in April 2017.

Irvine was a real trailblazer for broadcasting women, particularly in sports considered traditionally “male”.  She has fronted the BBC’s golf broadcasts for 25 years.

I’m a big admirer of Hazel’s.  She is understated, intelligent and knowledgeable, but doesn’t ram her knowledge down the viewer’s throat.

Glad to say she will continue to present the snooker and other major events.

And I’m also pleased to say that Eilidh Barbour will take over in the golf hot seat, and will start with the PGA Championship in May.