Women’s Sports Column 12-18 January 2019

abstract-accuracy-accurate-262438Welcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through again this week with updates on some of last week’s stories, plus all the results and news from last weekend and the rest of the week.  This week we look at darts, tennis, boxing, football, cycling, ultra-running, netball, rugby union and cricket.

Let’s crack on.

Darts

I don’t know why I start with the darts this week, but I have been very much taken with Mikuru Suzuki’s darts journey, which culminated last weekend in her becoming the first non-European to win the Women’s BDO World Championships.

Suzuki beat Maria O’Brien of England 2-0 in the semi-final, while Winstanley saw off Anastasia Dobromyslova of Russia 2-1.

The unseeded Japanese player then proceeded to complete the biggest shock of the week as she beat top seed Lorraine Winstanley of England 3-0 to take the title.

Indeed, Winstanley took only two legs off Suzuki, who averaged 90.12 over the match.

Suzuki’s nickname is “The Miracle” and while I probably wouldn’t go that far, it was a very impressive, surprising win and she obviously has the potential to do much more.

Ultra-running

Jasmin Paris has become the first woman to win the Montane Spine Race.  The British ultra-runner completed the 268-mile competition in 83 hours 12 minutes and 23 seconds, beating the old course record by no less than 12 hours.

The race is run along the length of the Pennine Way from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish borders and is open to both male and female runners.  Two-thirds of it is run in darkness.

And if running 268 miles, in winter, mostly in darkness was not enough, Paris stopped at the aid stations along the way to express breast milk for her baby daughter, Rowan.

I can’t even begin to understand what this kind of endurance event must be like to compete in.  She has my complete admiration.  What an achievement.

Tennis

Sydney International

Petra Kvitova took the Sydney title, defeating Ash Barty in the final in three sets, 1-6 7-5 7-6.

Hobart International

Sofia Kenin of the USA claimed the title in Hobart, defeating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia in straight sets, 6-3 6-0.

Australian Open

As usual, there were mixed fortunes for Britain’s women in the first round at Melbourne.

Harriet Dart crashed out badly, admitting that she let the situation and nerves get to her in her hard-earned first round tie against Maria Sharapova.  She had worked so hard to come through qualifying, but lost 6-0 6-0 against the Russian in one hour and two minutes.

In an interview with BBC Sport she said,

“I think nerves got the best of me but I tried my best and that’s all I could do.

“She hits a huge ball and it comes at you quick. She doesn’t give you anything so it was always going to be difficult.

“I’m glad to have these experiences and hopefully get more of big experiences on big stages.”

Katie Boulter, on the other hand, had a fine win in her first round match against 2015 semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova.  She won 6-0 4-6 7-6 (10-6).  For the first time this year there is a tie-break in the final set, but it is first to 10 points rather than seven. Boulter apparently forgot this and celebrated at 7-4, but managed to maintain her composure to take the match, hitting 53 winners in the process.

She couldn’t, however, repeat the performance in the second round and went out to 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets 6-3 6-4.  Although she played well, she was clearly frustrated with her performance.  In her post-match interview she said,

“I didn’t feel like I put my best game on the court.

“I’ve learnt so much just from playing matches on courts I haven’t played on before. I feel a lot more settled now,” she said.

Heather Watson suffered another disappointing first round exit, losing 6-1 6-2 to 32nd seed Petra Martic.  Cue many, many Watson-haters on the BBC website/Facebook/Twitter.  Watson certainly suffered in the heat (as have others, causing retirements) and has cited this as among the reasons for her loss, but she has also indicated that her mental attitude is also a problem and she lacks confidence and self-belief.

There is no doubt that Watson has talent, but has she fulfilled her potential?  Perhaps sessions with a sports psychologist may do the trick.  It would take a major miracle to silence the haters, but her first priority should be to herself.

Johanna Konta won her first round match after a difficult battle with Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia.  She won a final set tie-break to take the match 7-6 2-6 7-6 (10-7.

However, she was undone in the second by 18th seed Garbine Muguruza in a spectacular match which lasted two hours 42 minutes.  Unfortunately, only 250 fans were left in the arena to see it as the match started after midnight and finished at 3.12am.  Fabulous scheduling by the tournament organisers.

The final score was 6-4 6-7 7-5 to Muguruza.  Konta will feel heartened that she played a brilliant match in difficult circumstances.  And another point to make – I know the women’s matches generally take less time to complete, but would the organisers have started another men’s match at nearly 12.30am if there had been one to play? I don’t think so.

Other highlights so far:

Jelena Ostapenko, seeded 22, lost in the first round to Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1 3-6 6-2.

Danielle Collins of the USA is having quite a tournament.  Having disposed of 14th seed Julia Goerges in the first round, she then saw off 19th seed Caroline Garcia in the third round 6-3 6-2.

Home favourite Sam Stosur also went out in the first round, losing 7-5 6-2 to Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.  Yastremska then put out 24th seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the second, 6-3 3-6 6-1.

Tenth seed Daria Kasastkina lost to the unseeded Timea Bacsinszky 6-3 6-0.

More seeds fell in the second round as we lost Donna Vekic (29), Lesia Tsurenko (24), Anett Kontaveit (20) and Kiki Bertens (9).

World number one and top seed Simona Halep survived a real scare, eventually winning her second round match 6-3 6-7 6-4 over Sofia Kenin of the USA.

We are now in the middle of the third round:

Maria Sharapova (30) beat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki (3) in the third round 6-4 4-6 6-3.

The unseeded Amanda Anisimova accounted for 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Football

Charlton v Manchester United

Hopeless FA Klaxon!  It had to happen.  The match between Manchester United and Charlton was abandoned on Sunday after Charlton player Charlotte Kerr was injured.

But why did they have to abandon the game?  Kerr was treated on the pitch for nearly an hour, but there was no ambulance on-site and one had to be called.  The ambulance did not arrive for 30 minutes and during that time the medical staff used up the available emergency oxygen.

As there is a legal requirement to have oxygen (but not an ambulance) at the game, the referee had to call it off.

The current rules state,

“Clubs shall ensure that emergency sports first aid equipment is present and in full working order at each Competition Match. Such equipment to include as a minimum a spinal board, cervical collar, fracture splints, crutches, stretchers, oxygen and a defibrillator.”

If there had been an ambulance present, Kerr would have been treated quicker, taken off to hospital quicker and the game could have continued.

The good news is that the sternum and rib injury was heavy bruising and Kerr has been released from hospital, but at the time it was not clear that it was just bruising.

Whatever the critics of women’s football say, this is elite sport.  This is the highest level in the country but the FA does not seem able to see its way to ensuring, as far as it is able, the safety of the players.  There have been reports this week that the FA is now considering introducing a new rule on ambulances.  Let’s hope that this is the case, before something more serious happens and we lose a player for want of an ambulance.

Transfers

As predicted last week, Marc Skinner has now left Birmingham City to take up the role as head coach of Orlando Pride.  He has side a 2.5 year deal.

West Ham United have been busy in the transfer market this week.  They signed Canadian forward Adriana Leon from Seattle Reign at the weekend.  Leon has 54 caps for Canada and has scored 12 goals.  Then at the beginning of the week they signed South Korean captain Cho So-hyun from Avaldsnes of Norway, an experienced midfielder with 120 caps.

FAWSL

Results from 13 January were as follows:

Yeovil 1-2 Liverpool
Donovan 52’
Sweetman-Kirk 27’ (Pen) 93’

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Everton

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
Miedema 80’
Cuthbert 26’ 63’

West Ham Utd 1-3 Manchester City
Ross 58’
Weir 15’, Hemp 39’, Parris 86’

Birmingham City 0-1 Bristol City
Evans 15’

Manchester City are now top of the table with 31 points from 13 games.  Arsenal are one point behind and have played one game fewer.  Chelsea are third on 28 from 13 games.  At the bottom, Yeovil have three points from 12 games with Everton above them on six points from twelve.

Championship

The Championship results from 13 January were:

London Bees 2-1 Crystal Palace
Wilkinson 6’, Pickett 24’
Georgiou 17’

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Lewes
Naz 31’, Dean 52’, Schillaci 60’

Leicester City 3-2 Millwall Lionesses
Johnson 2’, Smith 35’ (Pen), Franklin-Fraiture 53’
Clarke 30’ 76’ (Pen)

Durham 2-2 Aston Villa
Robertson 21’, Salicki 75’
Hutton 22’, Welsh 45’

Charlton Athletic v Manchester United
Suspended

Tottenham are top with 30 points from 12 games.  Manchester United are second with 28 from 11, having had their game on Sunday postponed.  Charlton are third on 26 from 12.  At the bottom, Millwall have just two points from twelve.  Crystal Palace are above them with seven points from 13.

Continental Cup

The draw has been made for the semi-finals of the Continental Cup:

Tuesday 5 February
Arsenal v Manchester United

Wednesday 6 February
Chelsea v Manchester City

Cricket

WBBL

We now know the four teams who will take part in the WBBL semi-finals.  Sydney Sixers finished top of the pile with 20 points from 14 games.  Sydney Thunder finished second on 19 with Brisbane Heat third on 18 and Melbourne Renegades fourth on 15.

Saturday 19 January
First semi-final
Sydney Thunder v Brisbane Heat
(Drummoyne Oval, Sydney, UK start time 11.40pm)

Second semi-final
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Renegades
(Drummoyne Oval, Sydney, UK start time 2.50am, Sunday morning)

UK coverage via BT Sport and BBC 5 Live Sports Extra radio.

The final is next Saturday, 26 January.

England tour of India

The schedule for England’s tour of India has (finally) been released.

There will be three ODIs played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and three T20s to be played at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati.

The ODIs will each score two points towards the ICC Women’s Championship.

All UK times:
ODIs – 22, 25, 28 February, Mumbai, 3.30am
T20s – 4, 7, 9 March, Guwhati, 4.30am

Boxing

Nicola Adams will challenge for the WBO World Flyweight title on 8 March at the Royal Albert Hall.  She faces Arely Mucino of Mexico.

Mucino became world champion in February and her ten years as a professional boxer has seen her amass 27 wins, two draws and three defeats.

Rugby Union

Saturday’s Premier 15s results:
DMP Sharks 14-53 Loughborough Lightning
Saracens 31-28 Harlequins
Worcester Valkyries 7-27 Gloucester-Hartpury
Firwood Waterloo 0-14 Bristol Bears
Richmond 12-38 Wasps

All of the teams have played 14 games.  Saracens are top with 65 points.  They have opened up quite a gap now, with Harlequins second on 58.  Loughborough Lightning are third on 55.  At the bottom, Valkyries are marooned on just four points.  Above them are DMP Sharks on 13 and Firwood Waterloo on 14.

This weekend’s fixtures:
Loughborough Lightning v Firwood Waterloo (12pm, Loughborough University)
Wasps v DMP Sharks (2pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Bristol Bears v Worcester Valkyries (2.30pm, Shaftsbury Park)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Saracens (4.30pm, Gillman’s Ground)
Harlequins v Richmond (5.30pm, The Stoop)

Netball

Quad Series

The first weekend of the Quad series saw two excellent games:

England 54-41 New Zealand
After a tight first half, England did the job in the second to stretch the lead and take the game away from the Silver Ferns.  At half-time the Roses had just a one point lead, 25-24.  By the end of the third quarter the lead was up to 10 points and the Roses kept up that momentum to take the win by 13.  Jo Harten scored 27/32 and Helen Housby 25/31.  For New Zealand, Solonaima Maria Folau shot 29/32 and Ameliaranne Ekanasio 12/13.

Australia 62-45 South Africa
Australia, having to cope with the loss of their captain, Caitlin Bassett, who is sidelined with a broken arm, made a slow start.  South Africa, in contrast, were quick out of the blocks and took an early lead.  They managed to maintain this good form until well into the second-half, but the Diamonds went into the break 27-25 up.  They then upped their game in the third quarter, taking control by the end of it and pushing their advantage to extend the gap to 17.  For Australia, Gretel Tippett shot 30/32 and Caitlin Thwaites 17/18.  South Africa’s main shooters, Lenize Potgieter and Ine-Marie Venter scored 35/40 and 7/9 respectively.

This weekend sees rounds two and three at the Copper Box in London.  There is TV coverage on Sky Sports and on BBC 5Live Sports Extra on the radio.

Vitality Netball Super League

Last weekend’s results:

Friday 11 January
Strathclyde Sirens 45-55 Team Bath

Saturday 12 January
Loughborough Lightning 52-44 Team Bath
Surrey Storm 39-59 Saracens Mavericks
London Pulse 40-67 Celtic Dragons

There are no fixtures this weekend as we concentrate on the Quad Series.  It’s early days of course, and most teams have only played two games.  Team Bath are on top with two from two.  Wasps and Thunder are next, although they have only played one game each and have one win.

Volleyball

The Women’s Super League is now entering into the second half of its season.  The league has split into top five and Bottom four.  Fixtures get underway again this weekend.  More news in a couple of weeks when I’m back.

Cycling

Former Team GB cyclist Jess Varnish has failed in her attempt to prove that she was an employee of both British Cycling and UK Sport at an employment tribunal.

This means she will, in effect, be unable to sue the bodies for wrongful dismissal and sex discrimination.

Varnish had claimed that British Cycling’s control over her made it an employer-employee relationship, but the governing body said it was more like a university grant situation.

There is no doubt that UK Sport will be heaving a huge sigh of relief at this decision, but it may yet have to review its processes and attitude to athlete welfare.

For more on this story see this excellent piece in Cycling Weekly.

And Finally,

First “And finally” of the year must go to Imke Wubbenhorst.  I know many of you will be asking “Who?” as I was, to be honest.  But she’s top of my pile this week for her fantastic response to yet another puerile question from a journalist.

Wubbenhorst is manager of BV Cloppenburg – a men’s fifth tier team in Germany.  She is the first woman to hold a managerial position at a men’s club at this level.

She was asked by a journalist whether she warned her players to make sure they put their pants on before she came into the changing room.

To which she replied,

“Of course not, I’m a professional; I pick my players based on their penis size.”

Love it.  No more need be said.

No column next week as I am out and about.

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 2-8 June 2018

running trackWelcome to this week’s column.  After the marathon of the previous one, I’m hoping this offering can be more in the way of a sprint!  Stories this week come from football, triathlon, rugby union, athletics, cricket, tennis, golf, judo, mountain biking and…. darts!

So let’s crack on.

Athletics

Dina Asher-Smith broke her own British 100m records at the Diamond League Bislett Games in Oslo on 7 June.  She clocked 10.92, beating her previous best by 0.07 seconds.  In the race she finished second behind Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast, but beat Commonwealth Games 100m champion Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago into third.

Tennis

No doubt as to the disappointment of the week, when the much-anticipated match between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova at the French Open was scuppered by Williams withdrawing through injury.  Anyone who reads this column regularly will know whose camp I am firmly in, and although Serena was the underdog, I would have loved to have seen her take on and beat Sharapova without breaking sweat.

Needless to say, there has been much comment since Williams withdrew, for and against both players.  I’m not passing judgement.  I wish she had been out there, but an arm injury that would have prevented her serving to the best of her ability was not something she could have played through.

The final of the French Open will be between number one seed Simona Halep and tenth seed Sloane Stephens and the tournament progressed as follows:

Quarter-finals
Sloane Stephens (10) beat Daria Kasatkina (14) 6-3 6-1
Madison Keys (13) beat Yulia Putintseva 7-6 6-4
Garbine Muguruza (3) beat Maria Sharapova (28) 6-2 6-1
Simona Halep (1) beat Angelique Kerber (12) 6-7 6-3 6-2

Semi-finals:
Sloane Stephens (10) beat Madison Keys (13) 6-4 6-4
Simona Halep (1) beat Garbine Muguruza (3) 6-1 6-4

The final is on Saturday 9 June and will be broadcast in the UK on ITV and ESPN and on the radio via BBC 5 Live.

Cricket

The England squad for the one-day series against South Africa has been announced.

Coverage of the first match, which is on Saturday 9 June is on TMS on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and via the BBC website and begins at 11am.

Heather Knight (capt, Berkshire), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire), Amy Jones (wicketkeeper, Warwickshire), Laura Marsh (Kent), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Sarah Taylor (wk, Sussex), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex).

England’s fixtures this summer:

England v South Africa

June
9 1st ODI, Worcester (11:00 BST)
12 2nd ODI, Hove (d/n) (13:00 BST)
15 3rd ODI, Canterbury (d/n) (14:00 BST)

Twenty20 tri-series

20 South Africa v New Zealand, Taunton (13:00 BST)
20 England v South Africa, Taunton (17:40 BST)
23 England v South Africa, Taunton (13:00 BST)
23 England v New Zealand, Taunton (17:40 BST)
28 South Africa v New Zealand, Bristol (13:00 BST)
28 England v New Zealand, Bristol (17:40 BST)

July
1 Final, Chelmsford (15:00 BST)

England v New Zealand
7 1st ODI, Headingley (11:00 BST)
10 2nd ODI, Derby (d/n) (13:00 BST)
13 3rd ODI, Leicester (d/n) (14:00 BST)

English Women’s County Championship

Hampshire have won the County Championship for the first time after beating Middlesex, which also condemned them to be relegated to division two.

Hampshire, promoted to division one this season and under new Director of Cricket, Charlotte Edwards, won six of their seven fixtures to secure the title.

Yorkshire finished as runners-up, while Middlesex and Somerset were relegated.   Sussex and Surrey are promoted from division two.

Aboriginal Tour

There are both men’s and women’s Aboriginal XIs touring England at the moment.  On Thursday 7 both sides played a Surrey XI at The Oval and on Friday 8 June they play a Sussex XI at Hove.

Thursday 7 June
Surrey Women 149/6 (20 0vers)
Aboriginal XI 113 all out (19.6 overs)
Surrey women won by 36 runs

Surrey captain Hannah Jones won the toss and elected to bat.  England’s Bryony Smith top scored with 58 with Amy Gordon making 37. Aboriginal captain Ashleigh Gardner had the best bowling figures, taking 2/28 from her four overs.

In response Gardner opened the batting but was out for six.  Hannah Darlington top-scored with 32 and there were good contributions from Emma Manix-Geeves (21) and Sally Moylan (27), but wickets fell too regularly for them to have a chance and the tourists fell short by 36 runs.

Mountain Biking

Great Britain’s Tahnee Seagrave won the Fort William leg of the Downhill World Cup last weekend.  She took the title in a time of 05:10.960, ahead of Myriam Nicole of France in second, 05:19.211 and Britain’s Rachel Atherton in third, 05:20.016.

Seagrave now lies second in the rankings on 1751 points, behind Myriam who has 1950.

Football

England Qualifier

England Head Coach, Phil Neville, will have decisions to make on Friday as there have been a series of withdrawals from his squad for Friday’s qualifier against Russia.

Captain Steph Houghton was the first to withdraw and now faces some time on the sidelines as she undergoes knee surgery.

Earlier this week Izzy Christiansen and Jordan Nobbs also withdrew.  Christiansen has a thigh problem, while Nobbs has a foot injury.

Lucy Staniforth of Sunderland and Lauren Bruton of Reading have been called up as cover and Lucy Bronze had been named captain.

Just to remind you, the Russia game will be on the BBC Red Button and online from 5pm.

Wales Qualifier

Wales 1-0

Wales took a one-point lead in Group A after beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 in Swansea on 7 June.

Kayleigh Green scored the only goal of the game in the 61st minute after Wales had spurned numerous chances, including a penalty, which was missed by Helen Ward.

Wales play again on Tuesday 12 June in Newport when they face Russia.

Scotland Qualifer

Scotland 2-1 Belarus

Scotland are up to second in Group B, three points behind Switzerland after they came from behind to beat Belarus at the Falkirk stadium on 7 June.

Belarus took the lead through Karina Olkhovik.  Scotland had plenty of chances to equalise and Jane Ross had a goal disallowed before Erin Cuthbert finally drew them level just before the break.

Cuthbert bagged her second on 65 minutes to give the Scots the win.

They play again in Poland on Tuesday 12 June, with leaders Switzerland travelling to Belarus on the same day.

Other football news

There has been another flurry of transfers/releasing of players/new contracts this week.  Here are the highlights:

  • Biggest news of the week, Reading and England goalkeeper Mary Earps has signed for German champions Wolfsburg on a one-year deal. This will be great experience for the 25-year old.
  • Second biggest news must be the appointment of former Liverpool coach Matt Beard as the new Head Coach of West Ham Ladies. Watch out, West Ham obviously mean business.
  • Birmingham City have released Freda Ayisi, Maddy Cusack and Coral Haines.
  • Manchester City have signed Scotland international Caroline Weir from Liverpool.
  • Fran Kirby has signed a new three-year contract with Chelsea.
  • David Haley is to step down as Celtic manager after five years to take charge of the Celtic Women’s Academy

Darts

Great news from the world of darts this week as it was announced that from 2019 the PDC World Championship will include two female players as part of an expanded field.

There will be 96 players taking part, an increase from 72.  There will be two women’s qualifying events for the UK and Rest of the World.  The winners of these events will get to the main draw.

The tournament takes place at the Alexandra Palace and runs from 13 December to 1 January.

Triathlon

Great Britain took silver in Nottingham on Thursday 7 June in the first of the Mixed Relay Series events.

The team, comprising Jonny Brownlee, Non Stanford, Tom Bishop and Vicky Holland finished 29 seconds behind the USA, who completed the course in one hour 21 minutes and 16 seconds.

France finished third in a sprint finish, nine seconds behind Brownlee and one second ahead of Australia’s Ryan Bailie in fourth.

Mixed Relay will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and the Nottingham event was the first to earn teams Olympic qualifying points.

The second event will be in Edmonton, Canada, from 27-29 July.

Rugby Union

This weekend sees the final leg of the Women’s World Sevens in Paris.  Australia are currently top of the standings with 74 points, New Zealand lie second with 70 with France back in third on 54.  News and results next week.

It was also announced that next season’s series will include an extra leg, an opening event in Glendale, Colorado.  This will mean the women’s circuit will comprise six rounds; USA, Dubai, Sydney, Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris.

Netball

It was round 15 of the Netball Super League at the weekend and the results were as follows:

Friday 1 June
Team Bath 54-45 Benecos Mavericks

Saturday 2 June
Manchester Thunder 53-42 Wasps Netball
Team Northumbria 58-47 Celtic Dragons
Surrey Storm 51-44 UWS Sirens
Loughborough Lightning 59-44 Severn Stars

With Wasps’ second defeat in a row, they and Lightning are level on points at the top on 36, but Wasps still have a game in hand.  Thunder are third, three points back but also with a game in hand over Loughborough.  The Dragons are bottom on six points with Northumbria above them on nine.

It’s round 15 this weekend – just three rounds to go until the semis and final!

Friday 8 June
Team Bath v Loughborough Lightning (7.30pm)

Saturday 9 June
Celtic Dragons v Wasps Netball (4pm)
Benecos Mavericks v Manchester Thunder (6pm)
Surrey Storm v Team Northumbria (6pm)

Monday 11 June
Severn Stars v UWS Sirens (Live on Sky Sports, 7pm)

Rugby League

There were no Super League games last weekend as it was a Challenge Cup weekend.  There were some big scores for the more established sides with Castleford Tigers knocking out current Challenge Cup holders, Bradford Bulls, in the process.  The quarter-final draw has been made.  Ties take place during the weekend of 30 June-1 July.

Barrow v York City Knights
Castleford Tigers v St Helens
Featherstone Rovers v Wigan Warriors
Leeds Rhinos v The Army

Judo

Britain’s Sarah Adlington took a silver medal at the European Judo Open in Madrid last weekend.

She was beaten by Kristin Bussow of Germany in the final of the +78kg category.

Golf – US Open

Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand won the US Open on the fourth play-off hole in Alabama last weekend.

She had a seven-shot lead going into the back nine of the final round, but in the end had to settle for a play-off as she finished level with Hyo Joo Kim of Korea on -11.

They were still level after a two-hole play-off before it went to sudden death.  At their third play-off hole they both parred again before Jutanugam won the fourth with a par to win her second major.

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda finished third.  Charley Hull finished in a share of tenth place and was the highest placed Briton.

No spitting or ranting “And Finally” this week (relief all-round there), but I’ll be back next week with more news, scores and views.  

Women’s Sports Column 19-25 November

boxing_gloves-2Welcome to this week’s column.  Don’t think I missed much last week – well I certainly didn’t read much anywhere else, so there couldn’t have been much going on.…

Anyway, stories this week come from golf, football, cricket, rugby, sports leadership, boxing and an “and finally” giving you the BT Action Woman Award shortlist (and wow, what a shortlist!).

Golf

Top billing this week goes to Britain’s Charley Hull who won her first LPGA tournament on Sunday.  She won the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida.

She finished her four rounds on -19, two ahead of South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon, with Jennifer Song of the US third on -15.

Fellow Britons Jodie Ewart Shadoff finished on -3 in a share of 36th place and Catriona Matthew level in 46th.

Hull had a one shot lead going into the final round.  She shot a fourth round 66 with six birdies and no bogeys to take the win with a tournament record score.

She took $500,000 in prize money and finishes the year as world number 29.

Boxing

In the ring

Katie Taylor makes her professional debut on Saturday at Wembley Arena.

She fights Poland’s Karina Kopinska.  Result and report next week.

Out of the ring

 Nicola Adams appeared on Desert Island Discs on Sunday 20 November on Radio 4.  If you missed it, it’s well worth a listen and is still available on the BBC I-player.

Football

On the pitch

Manchester City continued their great form (actually last week, but I feel I should report on it for the sake of continuity), as they made it into the quarter-finals of the Women’s Champions League.

They took a 1-0 first leg lead to Danish side Brondby and managed to secure a 1-1 draw away from home to take a 2-1 aggregate win.

In the 64th minute City took the lead through a fabulous curling shot from Toni Duggan, but the lead didn’t last long as Nanna Christiansen poked the ball in to make it 1-1.

City’s defences were not breached again and  they will now play in the last eight in March.

Off the pitch

Chelsea Ladies have signed Norway captain Maren Mjelde on a two year contract.

Mjelde, who plays in central midfield, has won 107 caps.  She will join the Blues on 1 January.

Football Association Women’s Football Awards

Jordan Nobbs was named England player of the year the FA Women’s Football Awards this week, while Chelsea’s Millie Bright was voted England young player of the year.

Manchester City manager Nick Cushing was named WSL manager of the year and City also won club of the year.

Manchester City defender Lucy Bronze took the WSL 1 player of the year.

Former England manager, Hope Powell, was also honoured, receiving the award for Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Football.

Cricket

On the pitch

England v Sri Lanka

England duly completed a 4-0 series whitewash over their much weaker opponents, sealing automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in the process.

India v West Indies

After the home side took the three-match ODI series 3-0, it was West Indies turn in the three-match T20 series.

1st T20 18 November

India 150/4 (20 overs)
West Indies 154/4 (19.1 overs)

West Indies won by 6 wickets with 5 balls to spare.

2nd T20 20 November

West Indies 137/5 (20 overs)
India 106 all out (18.1 overs)

West Indies won by 31 runs

3rd T20 22 November

West Indies 139/4 (20 overs)
India 124/3 (20 overs)

West Indies won by 15 runs

New Zealand v Pakistan

New Zealand completed a clean sweep in their five-match ODI series against Pakistan.

They also played one T20 which they also won.

T20 ODI 21 November

New Zealand 118/9 (20 overs)
Pakistan 104 all out (20 overs)

New Zealand won by 14 runs

Australia v South Africa

With two more ODIs to play in a five-match series, Australia have already clinched it.  They won the first three:

1st ODI 18 November

South Africa 226/5 (50 overs)
Australia 230/8 (49.5 overst)

Australia won by 2 wickets with 1 ball remaining.

2nd ODI 20 November

Australia 278/4 (50 overs)
South Africa 119/5 (31.2 overs)

Australia won by 66 runs by D/L method

Meg Lanning scored 134 for Australia.

 3rd ODI 23 November

South Africa 173/8 (50 overs)
Australia 174/1 (27.1 overs)

Australia won by 9 wickets with 29 balls to spare.  Lizelle Lee made her maiden century, scoring 102 off 89 balls.

Off the pitch

The ICC has awarded Pakistan six points towards the ICC Women’s Championship for the three-match series that should have been played against India before the end of October.

The series was never played and so considered forfeited by the ICC.

This now means that both India and Pakistan will have to qualify for the World Cup as both are in the bottom four of the championship table.

The PCB was due to host the series in the UAE, but the BCCI did not respond to the PCB’s queries regarding the series and a scheduling agreement could not be reached.

The ten-team qualification tournament will take place in Colombo in February 2017.

It also means that West Indies gain the last automatic qualification place.

There are four World Cup places up for grabs and the qualification tournament participants will be: Pakistan, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Thailand and Zimbabwe.

Rugby union

On the pitch

England 20 – 25 New Zealand
19 November

England lost a tight match to World Cup favourites, New Zealand, at the Twickenham Stoop on Saturday.

Rochelle “Rocky” Clark set a new international caps record as she won her 116th to beat the record held by Scotland’s Donna Kennedy.

On the field things didn’t go so well for the Red Roses.  England started confidently with Fiona Pocock scoring a try in the first minute.  It went unconverted.

The Black Ferns came back and scored a try through Renee Wickliffe just before half-time which was converted by Kendra Cocksedge to make it 7-5 to the visitors at the break.

England came out for the second-half with renewed vigour.  First Harriet Millar-Mills and then Lydia Thompson went over for two more tries and with one conversion by Katy McLean the score was 17-7 to the home side.

Enter Cocksedge again.  The scrum-half scored two tries in five minutes, converting one to take them ahead again 17-19.

Emily Scarratt then kicked a penalty for England and they were in front again on 20-19.

But New Zealand and Cocksedge were not to be outdone.  She kicked two late penalties to secure the win – the Black Ferns’ ninth in a row and their fifth unbeaten against England.

Ireland 7-48 Canada
19 November

Canada are currently second in the world rankings, and from this performance it’s easy to see why.

It was all over as a contest by half-time as Canada ran in tries from DaLeaka Menin, Julianne Zussman and Karen Paquin, all of which were converted by Andrea Burk.   Burk also popped over a penalty to make it 0-24 to the visitors at the break.

Seven minutes into the second half Ireland had their first score, a try from Nikki Caughey which she then converted.

But then normal service was resumed as Canada scored another four tries; Emily Belchos, Laura Russell, Magali Harvey and a second for Sussman.  Burk converted two from four to make the final score a chastening one for Ireland.

Canada 10-20 New Zealand
22 November

In a shoot-out between the top two the Black Ferns came out winners at Donnybrook on Tuesday.

It was 8-0 to New Zealand at half-time with an unconverted try from Selica Winiata and a penalty from Kendra Cocksedge.

In the second-half Canada scored a try of their own through Magali Harvey after an interception by Latoya Blackwood.  This went unconverted and the score was 5-8.

Almost immediately New Zealand were over again, this time through Aotearoa Mata’u.

Both sides were reduced to 14 after first Canada’s Brittany Waters and then New Zealand’s Eloise Blackwell were sin-binned.

Canada’s Laura Russell came off a driving maul to go over the line to bring the score back to 10-15 with 15 minutes left.

But New Zealand struck straight back once more.  Cocksedge missed a penalty, but Winiata scored her second try of the match to seal the win for the Black Ferns.

Remaining Fixtures:

26 Nov: England v Canada (Twickenham Stadium)
27 Nov: Ireland v New Zealand (The Bowl, Dublin)

Sports politics and leadership

Christine Ohuruogu has commented on the barriers faced for BAME people wanting to get into sports administration – male or female.  We already know how hard it is for women to get onto sports boards or into senior administrative roles.  You can multiply this several times when you add ethnicity to the mix.

Sporting Equals, an organisation that promotes ethnic diversity in sport has completed an audit and found that of 601 board members, just 26 (just over 4%) are from BAME backgrounds.   Only two chairs or chief executives are from BAME backgrounds.

When interviewed, Ohuruogu said,

“Talking to other athletes and sportspeople, they are expressing concern that it is a world not open for them.

“They won’t be welcomed, won’t be valued and it is very negative. They have gone as far as they can as athletes but they don’t feel there is any more room for them to go.”

The scary thing (if these figures were not scary enough) is that the 26 board members figure is UP BY 17 from last year!

It is in everyone’s interest that wider society is reflected in the boards and organisations that run our sports.  While my main is to campaign for greater inclusion for women, it is good to be reminded that there are other groups who also need a voice.

And finally,

The BT Action Woman 2016 shortlist is out.  And what a list it is!  It has been a stellar year for women’s sport and this shortlist reflects some of the best performances, breakthroughs and results of the year.

The shortlist is:

Nicola Adams

Defended her Olympic boxing title in Rio, the first British boxer to do so since 1924.

Rachel Atherton

Won all seven rounds of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup and the world title for the fouth time.

Hannah Cockcroft

Three more sprint gold medals from Rio to add to her Paralympic tally.

Kadeena Cox

The first British Paralympian to win golds in multiple sports in the same Games for 32 years.  She won gold on the track in the T-38 400m and then in the cycling C4-5 time trial.

Charlotte Dujardin

Defended her individual dressage gold in Rio, taking her total to three Olympic golds.

Maddie Hinch

GB’s hockey goalkeeping superstar helped her team to win gold in Rio.  She save four penalties in the final shootout against Netherlands.

Jade Jones

Another woman who successfully defended her Olympic title in Rio.  She took -57kg gold, to be the first British athlete to win more than one taekwondo Olympic medal.

Johanna Konta

The first British female tennis player to reach the world top 10 since 1984.  Won her first title on the WTA tour in Stanford, beating Venus Williams in the final.  Truly a breakthrough year.

Dame Sarah Storey

Overtook Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian after winning the C5 3000m individual pursuit gold medal to take her total to 14 golds.

Laura Kenny ( formerly Trott)

Britain’s most successful female Olympian.  She repeated her London golds in the omnium and team pursuit to have a total of four.

To vote for your favourite, go to http://sport.bt.com/vote-action-woman-2016-01364108169407. The closing date is 5 December, with the awards ceremony, shown live on BT Sport 1 on Monday 12 December.

Women’s Sports Column 4-11 November

rugby ballIn another week when the importance of sport recedes into the background, it is still necessary that we remind ourselves that women are making progress, achieving and winning.  And luckily there are plenty of women in sport who have been doing just that this week.

So let’s crack on.  Stories this week come from football, cricket, rugby union, tennis, sailing, cycling, rowing and a positive “And finally” from the world of men’s rugby.

Football

The draw has been made for next year’s European Championships.  England, in the top pot of seeds, have been drawn against Scotland.  Here’s the draw in full:

Group A: Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway
Group B: Germany, Sweden, Russia, Italy,
Group C: France, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland
Group D: England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal

Scottish Women’s Cup

Hibernian 1-1 Glasgow City
Hibs win 6-5 on penalties
6 November

Hibs completed the Scottish Cup double this week as they beat Glasgow City on penalties to win the Scottish Women’s Cup after they had won the League Cup in June.

Hibernian took the lead through a Lisa Robertson header in the first half, but Hayley Lauder equalised in the second.

The two teams could not be separated in extra time so the final went to penalties.

Robertson missed her penalty for Hibs, but Jenna Fife saved Lauder’s and Sam Kerr hit her penalty over the bar and the cup belonged to Hibernian.

Champions League last 16 – First leg

Manchester City Women 1-0 Brondby

Keira Walsh’s strike was the difference between the two sides at the Academy Stadium on 9 November.

It was a game of few opportunities and so when Walsh scored with 16 minutes to go, there was always the chance it would be the winner.

City would have liked a bigger cushion going into next week’s second leg in Denmark, but after this tight game they will just be glad of the lead.

The second leg will be on 16 November.

FAWSL

It was the final round of matches in the FAWSL Last weekend.  Manchester City had already played out and won the title but there was still plenty to play for.  There was a big result for Doncaster as they bowed out of WSL1 with their first win of the season, while Birmingham City put the season to bed with a thumping win at Sunderland to finish fourth in the league.

WSL1

Liverpool Ladies 3-5 Arsenal Ladies
Notts County Ladies 1-3 Chelsea Ladies
Reading FC Women0-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles
Sunderland AFC Ladies1-7 Birmingham City Ladies

Yeovil duly sealed the WSL2 title on Sunday with a fine win against Sheffield Ladies.  They won the league on goal difference from Bristol City Women who are also promoted.

WSL2
Aston Villa Ladies 4-0 Watford Ladies
Durham Women 2-1 Millwall Lionesses
London Bees 3-4 Everton Ladies
Oxford United Women0-5 Bristol City Women
Yeovil Town Ladies 3-0 Sheffield Ladies

For full reports on each match check out the excellent FAWSL website.

Off the pitch

Former England captain Casey Stoney has left Arsenal Ladies for the second time.

She rejoined the Gunners in January 2014, having played for them first from 1999-2002.

There is no indication where she is off to – her Twitter feed was somewhat vague:

“I’m sorry I never got the chance to say goodbye.  But I would like to say a big thank you to my team-mates and all the amazing fans for all your support.  Looking forward to my next chapter.”

New Zealand international Rosie White is leaving Liverpool Ladies to join Boston Breakers.  She had been with Liverpool since July 2015.

Rugby Union

The draw has also been made for the next year’s World Cup.  England will be pleased with their draw.  The “Europe 3” place is between Spain and Scotland.  So England could meet Scotland in both the football and the rugby group stages in 2017!

The hosts, Ireland, may not be so pleased with the draw:

The draw in full:
Pool A: Canada, New Zealand, Wales, Asia/Oceania 2
Pool B: England, USA, Italy, Europe 3
Pool C: France, Ireland, Australia, Asia/ Oceania 1

World Rugby’s awards shortlists

England’s Sarah Hunter has been shortlisted for Women’s Player of the year alongside Fiao’o Fa’amausili (NZ) and Gaelle Mignot (FR).

The Women’s sevens player of the year shortlist is Charlotte Caslick (AUS), Emily Scarratt (ENG) and Portia Woodman (NZ).Top of Form

Old Mutual Wealth Series

England 10-5 France
9 November, Twickenham Stoop

A good win for England in a tough first match of this series, but the night belonged To Rochelle “Rocky” Clark, who won her 114th England cap to equal Jason Leonard’s record.

In the only score of the first half Amy Cockayne went over but the try went unconverted.

France obviously had a rocket during the break and played with much more determination in the second half.  It only took one loose ball for Christelle le Duff to pounce and level the score.

Camille Grassineau was sin-binned towards the end and England took full advantage.  Marlie Packer drove over and England took the game.

It was a tight, but scrappy match and the Red Roses will have to up their game significantly if they are to make an impression in their next match against New Zealand at Twickenham on 19 November.

Women’s Senior Cup

Last weekend saw the first round of the Cup with the results as follows:

Pool  1

Darlington Mowden Park Ladies 5-14 Aylesford Bulls Ladies
Firwood Waterloo Ladies 24-34 Worcester Valkyries

Pool 2

Lichfield Ladies 45-5 Bristol Ladies
Richmond Ladies 12-30 Wasps Ladies

Cricket

Sri Lanka v England

England’s ODI series against Sri Lanka began on Wednesday with a resounding win for the tourists.

Sri Lanka 168-7 (50 overs)
England 171-2 (29.3 overs)
England won by 8 wickets

Captain Heather Knight starred with both bat and ball as England won the first game convincingly.  She took 2/29 and scored 45 not out to steer the team home.  The other standout performances were Katherine Brunt with 2/35 and Nat Sciver top scoring with 47 not out.

There are three games to go in the series, all of which score towards the ICC Women’s Championship, and, therefore, qualification for next year’s world Cup.  England only have to win one of these matches to qualify.

The second game at the R Premadasa Stadium takes place on Saturday (starts 4.30am).  Good luck to anyone who can find a way of following it other than the scorecard on Cricinfo.

India v West Indies

India are playing West Indies in a three-match ODI series and a three-match T20 series.

West Indies 131 all out (42.4 overs)
India 133 – 4 (39.1 overs)

India were impressive with both bat and ball to win the first game of the series.  Wicket keeper Merissa Aguilleira top scored in the Windies innings with 42. Only Hayley Matthews with 24 and Stafanie Taylor with 19 provided any other meaningful contribution.  Rajeshwari Gayakwad took 4/21 off 9.4 overs, while Ekta Bisht took 3/14 off 8.

The home side had no trouble knocking off the target.  Vida Krishnamurthy top scored with 52, Mithali Raj chipped in with 46.

New Zealand v Pakistan

New Zealand are also taking on Pakistan in a series of five ODIs and one T20.

Pakistan 156 all out (49 overs)
New Zealand 157-2 (23 overs)

New Zealand won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat.  Both Nain Abidi and Asmavia Iqbal scored 49, but it was never going to be enough.  Lea Tahuhu took 3/37 off her 10 overs and Morna Nielsen 2/27 from her 10.

The home side coasted with all players making contributions; Suzie Bates 64, Sam Curtis 55 not out, Amy Satterthwaite 18 and Katey Martin 13 not out.

Cycling

There was another good medal haul for British women’s cyclists at the Track Cycling World Cup in Glasgow last weekend.

The team pursuit title was claimed by Emily Kay, Manon Lloyd, Emily Nelson and Eleanor Dickinson as they beat the Italian team in the final by 1.89 seconds.

Katie Archibald, who is in storming form at the moment and Manon Lloyd, took the inaugural women’s madison.  They crashed into Russian and Belgian riders on lap 18 of 80, but recovered to be only two points behind the French teams going into the final sprint.  They won this to take the event on 25 points, two ahead of France.

Unfortunately, as a result of the crash Archibald fractured her wrist and will now be off the track for a while until it heals.

On the second day Emily Kay won the new-look omnium.  The race has been reduced from six races over two days to four in one day.  She won by one point ahead of Lotte Kopecky in second and Tatsiana Sharakova in third.

 Rowing

Heather Stanning announced her retirement from rowing this week.

Stanning, 31 with her partner Helen Glover retained their coxless pairs title in Rio this year – the first British women rowers to win back-to back golds.

The pair have now won 39 consecutive races, including two world championships.

Helen Glover is now considering her own future. She has already rowed successfully with another partner, Polly Swann.  As a pairing they became world champions in 2013, while Stanning was on duty in Afghanistan and European champions in 2014 when Stanning was injured.

Tennis

The WTA Elite Trophy title went to Petra Kvitova as she beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-2 in the final.

Svitolina beat top seed Johanna Konta 2-6 6-1 6-4 in the semi-final, while Kvitova beat home favourite and wildcard Zhang Shuai in straight sets, 6-2 6-2.

Sailing

Olympic champions Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have been awarded the female World Sailor of the Year Award.

Having taken silver in London, they went one better in Rio this year, taking gold in the Women’s 470.

And Finally

And finally, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is forming a panel to tackle sexism in its culture after a number of issues have arisen involving its players.

It recognises that the “macho” aspect of New Zealand Rugby is damaging the sport and has no place in society.

I’m not going to go into the events that have caused this “Respect and Responsibility Review” as they have been widely reported in the red tops, but the panel’s remit is clear:

“In the same way that rugby seeks to do better on the field, we must constantly seek ways to improve off the field,” said NZR Chief Executive Steve Tew.

The panel seems to have deliberately appointed a woman Chair, Kathryn Beck of the Law Society.  Other members include Olympic athlete Lisa Carrington, former All Blacks Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu and Sport NZ board member Jackie Barron.

A preliminary report is expected to be delivered in April 2017, with recommendations in May.

And finally (2) – No column next week as I’m away but back in two weeks for more great stories from women’s sport.

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.