Welcome to this week’s column. Summer may be slipping away from us here in Britain, but there’s still plenty to look forward to in the world of women’s sport.
This week brings stories from the Paralympics, tennis, athletics, cricket, football, rugby union and a sailing update from Abby Ehler.
Where to start? As with the Olympics, there is so much to love, admire or indeed boggle at, that I can only cover a fraction. So here are a few of my highlights from the last week:
One of my sporting heroes, without doubt. In Rio she has won gold in T34 400m with a world record and 100m. And she’s still only 24!
Wow, what a story! To win gold in one Paralympic sport is amazing, but two in different sports? On 10 September she took gold in the track cycling – the C4-5 time trial (and in a world record time) and then on 14 September she struck gold again, this time in the T38 400m (also a new world record). Oh, and she also won a bronze in the T38 100m.
I know one shouldn’t refer it back to a person’s medical history and no-one should be labelled, but how can you not be amazed by this woman? She’s 25 and suffered a stroke in 2014, leading to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. She’s brilliant.
I love canoeing in all forms and Britain has done very well in this Paralympics. Three golds in a day on 15 September with Jeanette Chippington winning the K1 200m KL1 title, 28 years after her first medal, a silver in the 100m backstroke L4 in Seoul in 1988. Then Emma Wiggs blew the field away to take the k1 200m KL2 gold. Thirdly Anne Dickens won gold in the KL3 200m final. That was three golds in about half an hour!
Numerous medals in swimming. Seven golds and six silvers. Bethany Firth took two golds and a silver, Hannah Russell, Steph Millward, Ellie Simmonds, Susie Rodgers, Ellie Robinson (just 15) all took golds with Claire Cashmore, Jessica-Jane Appleton, Rebecca Redfern, Steph Slater and Harriet Lee took silvers.
I’m sorry I’ve just concentrated on gold medals and silvers; every competitor has a story, a performance to be proud of and a unique experience. Without descending into the mawkish, it’s exciting, awe-inspiring and moving.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber went to world number one in the rankings this week when Serena Williams was knocked out of the US Open in the semi finals. She then went on to win the title, beating the Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Kerber had already won the Australian Open in January and was runner-up at Wimbledon, but Pliskova was in a rich vein of form, having beaten Williams in the semi in straight sets 6-2 7-6.
Kerber was not to be denied though, becoming the first German to win the US Open since Steffi Graf in 1996.
The women’s doubles title was taken by twelfth seeds Bethany Mattek-Sands (US) and Lucie Safarova (CZ). They beat the top seeded French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 2-6 7-6 6-4.
In other tennis news, the result of Maria Sharapova’s appeal against her two-year doping ban will be revealed in the first week of October.
Sharapova was banned by the ITF after testing positive for the banned substance, Meldonium, at the 2016 Australian Open. She had been taking the drug since 2006, but it has only been listed as a banned substance since January this year.
In athletics, the testing and re-testing of samples from the 2008 Olympics is still causing many medals to be re-awarded. The latest is set to go to British javelin thrower, Goldie Sayers. The silver medallist, Russia’s Maria Abakumova, will be disqualified after her re-test showed positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol. Sayers, who finished fourth, will now receive a bronze medal.
Sayers has long been a critic of doping in athletics, particularly the systematic state-sponsored scheme employed by Russia. In May 2016 she said she had considered withdrawing from the Rio games if Russian athletes were allowed to compete.
In cricket, the ECB has announced that England’s women will complete their busy year with a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in November. The three games will take place at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on Saturday 12, Tuesday 15 and Thursday 17 November.
It will be England’s last series in the ICC Women’s Championship, the qualifying tournament for the 2017 World Cup, which will be held in England.
At the moment England is placed in third on 19 points. Sri Lanka lies eighth.
Before the series takes place, England will have a six-day training camp in Abu Dhabi from 1-7 November.
England 5-0 Estonia
Carter (3), Scott, J, Carney (pen)
Meadow Lane, Nottingham
I was at Meadow Lane on 15 September for England’s latest qualifier. England have already qualified for next year’s Euros, but Mark Sampson is obviously keen to send a signal to the other top teams in Europe that England will be a force to contend with next year.
The first half-hour was excellent from England. They came out quickly and never gave Estonia a chance to gain a toe-hold, let alone a foot-hold. There were some lovely passing moves, close control was good, as was communication.
They were 3-0 up at half time with two goals from Danielle Carter and a Jill Scott header.
Towards the end of the first half focus slipped. Sampson will be aware that better sides would have taken advantage of this and when they came out in the second they had regained concentration.
However, the game was disrupted in the second-half with substitutions and England found it harder to put moves together. There were too much convoluted play, and although they had plenty of chances, there was never going to be the hatful of goals that the first half promised.
They did score two though, with Carter claiming her hat-trick and Karen Carney calmly slotting home a penalty for the fifth for a comprehensive win.
Poor Siobhan Chamberlain was reduced to running on the spot to get warm.
Quite rightly, Carter was Player of the Match; her record stands at two caps, two hat-tricks, but my other stand-out player was Gemma Davison. She flew down the right wing in the first half; her markers hadn’t got a clue how to deal with her. With fifteen minutes to go until half-time, she had obviously had so much fun on the right that she swapped wings with Demi Stokes to cause mayhem on the left. Truly the best half of football I have seen from Davison.
Wales 3-0 Israel
Ward (2), Estcourt
Wales put in an impressive display to beat Israel. Wales record scorer, Helen Ward, scored two with Charlie Estcourt adding a third in the second half. Jess Fishlock also missed a penalty.
Although Wales are third in Pool H, they cannot qualify for next year’s finals.
Sad news from football this week as it was announced that Sylvia Gore, the scorer of the first official goal for the England’s women team, has died from cancer at the age of 71.
In 1972 she scored England’s first goal in a 3-2 win against Scotland in Greenock.
Gore had a career in football that spanned over 60 years. As a player she once scored 134 goals in a season. After her playing career ended, she went on to become Wales manager. She was also an FA Women’s committee member for 20 years. Earlier this year she was unveiled as a Manchester City Women’s FC Club Ambassador.
England Rugby has announced the Elite Player Squad for 2016/17 season. As reported in an earlier column, this will be the first time England has awarded 15-a-side professional contracts.
The 54 names are split into full-time, part-time, short-term and non-contracted players. 38 contracts have so far been awarded.
The move is with the Women’s Rugby World Cup in mind, which takes place in Ireland in August 2017, where England will be looking to retain their title.
Full time contracts – 18
Claire Allan (Saracens)
Abbie Brown (Bristol)
Rachael Burford (n/a)
Amy Cokayne (Lichfield)
Heather Fisher (n/a)
Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Megan Jones (Bristol)
Alex Matthews (Richmond)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Amber Reed (Bristol)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Kay Wilson (Richmond)
Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol)
Part time – 9
Natasha Brennan (n/a)
Lauren Cattell (Saracens)
Lotte Clapp (Saracens)
Deborah Fleming (Saracens)
Katie Mason (Bristol)
Fran Matthews (Richmond)
Kelly Smith (Worcester Valkyries)
Millie Wood (Lichfield)
Rachael Woosey (Darlington Mowden Park)
Short Term – 11
Emily Braund (Lichfield)
Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries)
Vickii Cornborough (Aylesford Bulls)
Sarah Hunter (Bristol)
Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries)
LaToya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park)
Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries)
Non Contracted – 16
Sasha Acheson (Bristol)
Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park)
Sarah Bern (Bristol)
Bianca Blackburn (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Cleall (Bristol)
Emma Croker (Richmond)
Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries)
Abby Dow (Wasps)
Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park)
Ceri Large (Worcester Valkyries)
Poppy Leitch (Bristol)
Justine Lucas (Lichfield)
Fiona Pocock (Aylesford Bulls)
Alice Richardson (n/a)
Leanne Riley (Aylesford Bulls)
Joanne Watmore (n/a)
England’s upcoming fixtures:
Old Mutual Wealth Series:
England v France, Wednesday 9 November,The Twickenham Stoop 7.30pm
England v New Zealand, Saturday 19 November, The Twickenham Stoop 12pm
England v Canada, Saturday 26 November,Twickenham 5.05pm
Free entry after the men’s game
Ireland v England, Sunday 13 November,University College Dublin 2pm
Sailing news from Abby Ehler
Paralympics from the British side: Helena Lucas, who became Britain’s first Paralympic sailing champion winning gold at London 2012 sailing the 2.4mR, 1-person keelboat is defending her Gold medal and currently leading the fleet, with more racing scheduled over the next few days, weather permitting. In the 3-person Keelboat, Hannah Stodel and her team mates who have been together for 4 consecutive Games are currently placed 5th in the fleet with 5 races to go and all to play for.
In the single handed offshore racing circuit, Justine Mettraux (SUI) and Sophie Faguet (FRA) are 150 miles from their finish, having been at sea since September 10th up against gruelling conditions as they race from the Azores to France in the 15-strong fleet. The teams are expected into Douarnenez, near Brest this weekend. Justine is currently lying in a respectable 7th place, neck and neck with 3 other competitors, so it will be a nail biting finish for the leading pack.