Women’s Sports Column 4-10 June

sarah TaylorLots to get through again this week, so let’s crack on.  There seem to be a lot of medical stories this week – some good, some bad.   I have snippets from tennis, athletics, gymnastics, hockey, horse racing, swimming, rowing, golf, judo, cricket and football.

The biggest tennis news obviously surrounds Maria Sharapova. She has been banned from tennis for two years after failing a drugs test.

She tested positive for meldonium, a heart disease drug that has been on the banned list since January 2016. It has emerged that she has been taking the medication since 2006.

Sharapova is set to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

 

On the positive side, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won the French Open at Roland Garros on Saturday, beating Serena Williams in straight sets 7-5 6-4.

It was clear that Williams was suffering with an injury throughout the tournament and did not look herself. But an injured Serena is often as dangerous as a fit Serena and Muguruza must have been aware of that.

Williams was aiming to win her fourth French Open title, Muguruza her first. Williams was beaten by the better player on the day and was quick to dispel the idea that her opponent had won largely because of the injury;

“It was OK,” she said. “I’m not one to ever make excuses and say, like, ‘Oh, my adductor was hurting,’ or whatever.

“At the end of the day I didn’t play the game I needed to play to win and she did. Adductor or not, she played to win.

“She won the first set by one point. I mean, that just goes to show you that you really have to play the big points well, and she played the big points really well.”

 

This week has seen the start of the run-up to Wimbledon with the traditional warm-up tournaments being played. Britain’s top women have been in action at Nottingham, but have not fared too well.

Laura Robson went out in the first round, losing 6-3 7-5 to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal. Heather Watson took the first set in her first round game against Magdalena Rybarikova, but eventually lost 4-6 6-0 6-4.

Naomi Broady fared no better, 6-2 6-1 to Su-Wei Hsieh.

This left British number one, Johanna Konta, and qualifier Tara Moore as the only Britons left in the competition.

Johanna Konta made it to the second round, beating Victoria Duval from the USA 6-3 6-0 in the first, before succumbing to Zheng Saisai, ranked 44 places below her, 6-4 7-5. Konta had to call a medical time out for what she called a “niggle” in her pelvis, but expects to compete fully in the run-up to Wimbledon.

Tara Moore, however, continues to fly the flag for Britain. She has, very impressively, reached the quarter-finals. In the first round she beat Donna Vekic of Croatia, 6-2 7-5 and conquered Christina McHale in the second round 6-2 6-2.

 

In athletics, long jumper Shara Proctor finished third at the Oslo Diamond League meeting this week with a season’s best 6.67m.

Anyika Onuora was fourth in the 400m and Tiffany Porter also fourth in the 100m hurdles.

 

Great Britain’s gymnasts produced an excellent performance to win silver at the European Gymnastics Championships in Bern, Switzerland, over the weekend. Becky Downie, Ellie Downie, Claudia Fragapane, Gabby Jupp and Ruby Harrold finished with a score of 170.312, second behind Russia.

 

New Zealand’s Black Sticks caused somewhat of an upset this week as they beat Australia in Darwin to win gold at the International Hockey Open.

They had been beaten by the Hockeyroos at the round robin stage, but had their revenge in the final, taking it 2-0. Goals from Kelsey Smith and Olivia Merry in the first half were enough to take te title.

This is great preparation for the side which flies to London next week to take parting the Champions Trophy in London from 19-27 June.

 

Jockey Michelle Payne was released from hospital this week after suffering a serious fall in May. She had surgery on her pancreas and has been told to rest for at least another month. There has been some speculations that her career may be at an end, but Payne is yet to make a decision on that front.

“I’m going to be guided by my doctors and how I feel in myself,” she said.

 

Commonwealth Games bronze medal winning swimmer Erraid Davies may not get a chance to compete at the Paralympics in Rio later on this year.

She was told in April that her disability may not be serious enough for her to compete. Davies has Perthes disease which affects her hip bones and joints.

She now faces a medical panel in Berlin to assess her eligibility. However, because of the classification issue she missed the British Para-swimming trials in Glasgow which is the only competition for swimmers to achieve the qualifying standard.

So not only does she not know if she can compete due to the re-classification of her condition, if she is passed able to compete, she may not be able to qualify in time. There seems something wrong there to me.

 

It looks as if rower Katherine Grainger’s quest to compete for a fifth Olympic medal is in doubt.   She did not meet the time required to qualify for the women’s eight and was not on the list of 43 announced by Team GB on Thursday.

She can still be selected for the double scull with Vicky Thornley and, if the comments of British Rowing’s performance director, Sir David Tanner, are anything to go by, Grainger will still feature;

“It’s my confident intention very soon to be announcing those two back in their double and racing for Team GB at the Rio Games.

“There is no uncertainty. The only issue is that we weren’t ready to get the announcement in in time for today. It’s quite straightforward,” he said in an interview with the BBC.

 

The Women’s PGA Championship is underway at the Sahalee Country Club in Washington.

After the first round, Canada’s Brooke Henderson is leading on -4 with Christina Kim of USA and Kim In-Kyung of Korea tied on -2 in second.   Henderson’s first round score included a hole-in-one at the par-three 13th.

Some of Britain’s best players are also in action; Melissa Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff are both five shots off the lead, with Charley Hull a further shot behind on +2. Catriona Matthew, however is in danger of missing the cut as she stands on +5.

There was good news from Bangkok, Thailand this week as British judoka, Steph Inglis, woke from her coma. Inglis was hospitalised in Vietnam after falling off a motorbike when her skirt got trapped in the wheel when she was on her way to her teaching job in Ha Long. She was initially given just a 1% chance of survival, but has now been transferred to Bangkok to continue her recovery.

She apparently had one eye open when her parents arrived to visit on Tuesday. Her mother asked her blink and she did and then reached for her father’s hand.

She obviously has a long way to go, but at least her family and friends have some encouragement at this point.

 

More details have emerged this week as to the cause of England cricket star Sarah Taylor’s reasons for taking a break from cricket. She has revealed that for the past four years she has been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s really worth watching the BBC interview with Joe Wilson in full. In it Taylor speaks sensibly and frankly about her condition,

“My health is the most important thing and unfortunately my cricket has to come second,” she says.

Taylor is likely to miss the England series with Pakistan as well as the inaugural Kia Super League, which starts at the end of July.

She clearly realises that her recovery will take a while, but it is good to hear that she is confident of her return,

“I would like to say I’m 99% sure I will play cricket again.”

She also emphasises how grateful she has been for the support she has received from the ECB and, in particular, new England coach, Mark Robinson.

It has been well documented that cricket has always had a number of players who have suffered with mental health problems, and more than its fair share of suicides. Whilst the sport as a whole was slow to recognise this fact, it seems that now the support required is in place and providing a vital service. If you are interested in this subject, or if it affects you, you should also listen to the BBC TMS podcast interview with Graeme Fowler – one of my favourite players growing up, who revealed relatively recently his battle with depression. A moving and informative piece.

 

It’s be a great week for the England Lionesses with two thumping wins against Serbia on Saturday and Tuesday, and the news that they have qualified for the 2017 Euros with two games to spare.

On Saturday, England won 7-0 at Adams Park in High Wycombe. They took the lead early through Alex Greenwood and were 3-0 up by half-time through a Karen Carney penalty and a first goal for England from Rachel Daly.

In the second half England took complete control. Ellen White and Izzy Christiansen scored one each and Karen Carney sealed a hat-trick to make it 7-0. A crowd of 5.503 saw an impressive display, admittedly against a poor Serbia side.

On Tuesday it was the return fixture in Stara Pazova. And for the second time in four days, England put seven past their opponents.

Gemma Davison finally got on the scoresheet with two goals while Jill Scott opened the scoring and Ellen White added a second. Nikita Parris also bagged two goals, with the seventh coming from a Damjanovic own goal which completed another impressive and resounding win.

The week was capped for England when they were informed that through those two performances they had acquired the points they need to qualify for next year’s tournament. They still have to play Estonia at home and Belgium away to decide who finishes top.

Scotland had a mixed week in their quest for qualification. They suffered a terrible 4-0 home defeat to Iceland last Friday, but came back with an excellent win in Belarus 1-0 on Tuesday.

Scotland desperately want to avoid finishing second and going in to the play-offs. They have failed to get into the last two Euro Championships by losing in play-offs.

On Friday they were outplayed by Iceland, with BBC Player of the Year, Kim Little, also missing a penalty.

But on Tuesday it was a different matter. Jo Love scored the only goal in Minsk after 15 minutes and held on for the win to temporarily put themselves back on top of the table.

However, Iceland then beat Macedonia 8-0 to return to pole position and put Scotland under pressure once more.

 

And finally, former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro has settled her constructive dismissal case with Chelsea, but not before she had chance to reveal in court some of what went on at the club on a day-to-day basis. Chelsea had offered her the sum of 1.2 million pounds to settle out of court, but she turned them down.

Over the time between she turned them down and the details emerging of the treatment she suffered at the club, I heard more than one person expressing their disgust at her “greed” for not taking the money. Many of the mainstream newspapers took the same view, although, and somewhat surprisingly, I did see that the Metro front page described it in their headline as “hush money”.

And did Chelsea have something they needed to keep hushed?  They certainly did. They were forced to release a statement in which they said,

“The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused.

“We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.

It added: “Jose Mourinho also thanked Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as first team doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”

Dr Carneiro alleged that Jose Mourinho said that she had no place with the men’s first team,

“She works in academy team or ladies team, not with me.”

She was subjected to a barrage of sexually explicit comments, both from away fans and her own colleagues. And while the former could, unfortunately, be expected, she should not have had to put up with the latter. She claimed that the club took no notice of any of her complaints.

So, basically she was demoted then sacked for doing her job in a situation where she was constantly belittled and objectified. I would like to congratulate Dr Carneiro (called “girl doc” in a Daily Star headline – gosh she must have started her medical degree when she was nine) for having the guts to stand up to the machismo-machine that is the Premier League. Hopefully her example will make it easier for women currently suffering similarly to make their case.

 

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Women’s Sports Column 27 May-3 June

greenwayThis week’s stories come from cricket, football, hockey, tennis, gymnastics, rugby and sailing – plus a good news “and finally” that should make you punch the air with delight!

Cricket stories coming thick and fast. Lydia Greenway became the latest senior England player to retire this week. This comes after the shock departure of Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor’s break from cricket for an unspecified period.

Greenway was an accomplished batter, scoring 4.108 runs in an international career which spanned 13 years. She won 14 test caps, 126 one-day caps and 85 in T20s.

But it is for her fielding prowess that she will be remembered. She took women’s fielding to another level with her athleticism and willingness to put her body on the line.

Head Coach, Mark Robinson, made it clear to Greenway that she has no part in his future plans – the Robinson revolution is now in full swing. She will still play for Kent in the county championship and for the Southern Vipers in the inaugural Kia Super League later in the summer.

 

 

In better news, the ECB announced today (Friday 3 June) that Heather Knight will take over from Charlotte Edwards as captain of England, with Anya Shrubsole stepping up to the vice-captain’s role.

Knight’s career has been impressive thus far; five test caps, 55 ODI caps and 33 T20I caps and while she has built her reputation on her batting, her bowling has improved immensely over the last couple of seasons and now she is seen as a significant threat with both bat and ball. With a top score of 157, she was named Player of the Series in the 2013 Ashes. Her bowling best is currently 4 for 47, achieved on the tour to New Zealand in 2015.

 

She should be under no illusion that this will be an easy task. In the past few weeks England has lost Edwards and Greenway, with Taylor unavailable for selection for an unspecified period. Many commentators on the women’s game are asking where the runs are going to be coming from. As well as captaining, Knight will be expected to score plenty and contribute with the ball.

 

Somerset bowler Anya Shrubsole has been appointed vice-captain. The 24-year old is currently enjoying her best England and domestic form and should be a great support to the captain. She was named Women’s Cricketer of the Year this year, taking 32 wickets in all formats in the last 12 months.

 

Knight’s first series as captain will be against Pakistan. The tourists will play three one day internationals and three twenty20 internationals. The first match will be at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester on Monday 20 June.

 

 

The England Lionesses take on Serbia home and away in quick succession over the next week in two Euro 2017 qualifiers. On Saturday they are at Adams Park, home of Wycombe Wanderers. Kick-off is 5.30pm and will be live on BBC2 and 5Live Sports Extra.

 

Star striker Fran Kirby and defender Gilly Flaherty have withdrawn from the squad with injury.

 

England are currently second in the table, one point behind Belgium, who are away to Estonia on 3 June.

Also tonight (Friday 3) Scotland play Iceland at home, kicking off at 7pm, Northern Ireland v Georgia at the same time, while BBC2 Wales will show Wales v Norway on 7 June, kicking off at 5pm.

 

 

In domestic football, Brighton and Hove Albion have been promoted to WSL2 from the Women’s Premier League (yes, it is complicated). They beat Sporting Club Albion in the play-off 4-2.

 

They will take their place in Women’s Super League 2 in spring 2017 and are the second team to do so after Sheffield United were promoted last year. Even though they won the play-off they had to comply with licensing requirements of the Super League before they would be admitted.

 

The requirements included financial and business management checks, facilities and marketing capabilities. All of these have been satisfied and they will take their place next season in an expanded league of 20 teams.

 

 

 

 

The 2016 French Open final will between world number 1, Serena Williams, and world number 4, Garbine Muguruza in a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final.

 

In the semi-finals Williams won a scrappy match with the unseeded Kiki Bertens of Netherlands 7-6 6-4. Both players seemed to be struggling with injury. Indeed Williams has not looked happy all week. Bertens should really have taken the first set, but Williams broke back in the tenth game to bring it back to 5-5. The sent went to a tie-break which went Williams’ way 9-7. After that it was difficult to imagine Williams letting it go – and she didn’t, taking the second set 6-4.

 

The second semi-final was a peculiarly one-sided affair, which was unexpected. Sam Stosur had been playing some spectacular tennis to get this far, but she was totally outplayed by Muguruza, winning the match in straight sets 6-2 6-4.

 

The final will take place, weather permitting, on Saturday 4 June.

 

Great Britain’s women’s hockey team put in two impressive performances this week to remain unbeaten in their two-test series against world champions Netherlands this week.

They won the first 2-1 in Amsterdam. GB took the lead through Lily Owsley but Netherlands equalised just before half time through Kitty van Male. Helen Richardson-Walsh’s 39th international goal took the match for Great Britain.

The second game, played on 2 June ended as a 1-1 draw. Alex Danson socred her 90th international goal with just three minutes to go after Netherlands had taken the lead through an Eva de Goede penalty.

The team’s next competition will be the Champions Trophy in London. They will compete against Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and United States. The tournament begins on 18 June.

 

 

The European Gymnastics Championships have been taking place in Bern this week. Great Britain’s women have qualified in first place for the team final. They finished on 173.363, one tenth of a point ahead of Russia. The team final is on Saturday.

 

The individual competition is on Sunday with the women competing in the following disciplines:

Becky Downie – beam and uneven bars

Gabby Jupp – uneven bars

Ellie Downie – floor and vault

Claudia Fragapane – floor and vault

 

 

Australia have won their first Women’s Sevens Series title. They take the crown from New Zealand, who had won it for the previous three years.

 

They lost the final of the last round at Clermont-Ferrand in France to Canada but still finished 14 points ahead of New Zealand in the overall standings.

 

England finished fourth in the competition and also finished fourth in the last round, having been beaten by New Zealand in the third place play-off 22-5.

 

England will be greatly heartened by their performance during this series. They will be looking to put in a good show at the Olympics in Rio later in the summer, when Women’s Sevens makes its Olympic debut.

 

I have a new section to offer in the column this week. As everyone probably knows by now, my knowledge is not encyclopaedic, and one sport I know very little about is sailing. So I have to thank Abby Ehler, professional sailor and someone much more in tune with it than I, for this excellent update which will, hopefully, become a regular feature.

The Atlantic Cup

Libby Greenhalgh, former navigator onboard Team SCA, joined forces with Oakcliff Sailing (headed by Dawn Riley, legend in Sailing), to do a double handed race known as the Atlantic Cup.  The duo were new to short handed sailing, however they have finished 3rd on the podium, and were the first female team to compete in this event, so great news!  Here is a link to the event website news page.

http://www.atlanticcup.org/atlantic-cup-news/leg-1-finish-tales-sets-new-course-record

World Match Race Tour

American, Sally Barkow, again ex Team SCA, is currently competing in the World Match Race Tour which is a series of events held around the world in high performance catamarans, she heads up Team Magenta 32 and they are currently competing in Newport, RI.  Sally is the first female World Match Race Tour card-holder. The World Match Racing Tour is the longest running, global, professional sailing series. This is the first time in its 22-year-history that a tour card has been awarded to an all-female team.

Sally and team have qualified through to the Super 16 and the Newport event concludes on Saturday, so all eyes on Team Magenta 32, who have steadily been progressing through the ranks throughout the events.

http://wmrt.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TeamMagenta32/

We will have more news mid June at the start of the Figaro single handed French Elite Champs, there are 5 girls competing, which is a record number for this event.

And finally, let’s have a good fist pump story, shall we? Australian netball has made a brilliant advert for its team and for women in sport in general. Watch it – it’s great. It encompasses everything I fight for regarding women’s sport.

http://www.sportette.com.au/finally-commercial-women-sport-gets/