Women’s Sports Column 31 July -5 Aug

Schofield 2It’s Olympics time! Once every four years those of us who love women’s sport revel in the fact that it nearly (I said nearly) gets equal coverage at the Olympics. And we should make the most of it because come September we will go back to being very much second-class citizens.

However, I would still suggest that while you enjoy the Olympic coverage, you do keep a close eye on it. Will the women’s 100m enjoy the same profile as the men’s? Will the women’s football be on as much as the men’s? To be fair about it though, there will probably be more about the heptathlon (come on Jess!) than the decathlon…. I don’t want to be a killjoy, but although it will be good, it won’t be equal and there’s no use pretending it will.

Anyway, lecture over. In this week’s column there are stories from golf, tennis, football, cricket, cycling and sailing. The last couple of “And finally” pieces have been positive, so it’s time to redress the balance with one of those stories you have to read twice before you believe it actually happened……

The Women’s British Open ended with a win for Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand. In winning, she became Thailand’s first major champion. Mirim Lee of Korea had been way in front over the first two days, but Jutanugarn played the more consistent golf over the last two rounds. She took a two shot lead into the final round and was never headed, winning by three shots on -16.

Lee finished joint second with USA’s Mo Martin on -13 with Stacy Lewis on -11. Catriona Matthew, who had been right up with the leaders after the second round, finished joint fifth on -10 with Karrie Webb of Australia.

Home favourite, Charley Hull, could only finish on -5, after a disastrous 75 on Saturday put her out of contention.

 

In tennis, the Rogers Cup was claimed by Simona Halep. She beat Madison Keys in the final, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. It was her third title of the year so far.

Halep also featured in the doubles final with partner Monica Niculescu, but the Romanian pair were beaten by Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

British number one, Johanna Konta was beaten in the quarter-final by qualifier Kristina Kucova, 6-4 6-3. If she had progressed, she would have entered the top 10 rankings, joining Jo Durie, Virginia Wade and Sue Barker as the only British women to have done so. As it is she stands at 13 in the world.

It’s been a busy week in the FAWSL. :

Wednesday 3 Aug

WSL 1

Reading FC Women 1-2 Manchester City Women
Bruton 88                           Christiansen 38, Duggan 80

Sunday 31 July

FA WSL 1

Manchester City Women 3-0 Sunderland AFC Ladies
Stanway 17, 55, 82

Reading FC Women 1-1 Notts County Ladies FC
Follis 65                              Buet 40

Arsenal Ladies FC 1-2 Liverpool Ladies FC
Williams 9                      Van de Sanden 21, Weir 75
FA WSL 2

Durham Women FC 3-0 Watford Ladies FC
Hepple 17, 69
Roberts 65

Aston Villa Ladies FC 0-2 Yeovil Town Ladies FC
Short 4,Heatherson 49

Oxford United Women 4-2 London Bees
Umotong 30, 61          Popadinova 36, 54
Allison 32
Noble 36

Saturday 30 July

FA WSL 1

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-1 Birmingham City Ladies
Linnett 61

FAWSL 2

Everton Ladies FC 1-1 Sheffield FC Ladies
Turner 20                        Dale 48

Millwall Lionesses 1-2 Bristol City Women
Babajide 62                      Emslie 10, 67

The quarter-finals of the Continental Cup take place from today into the weekend. Here are the fixtures:

Friday 05 August 2016

19:00 Arsenal Ladies FC v Notts County Ladies FC (The Hive)

Sunday 07 August 2016

14:00 Birmingham City Ladies v Liverpool Ladies FC (Solihull Moors)
14:00 Manchester City Women v Doncaster Rovers Belles (Academy Stadium)
14:00 Sheffield FC Ladies v London Bees (Sheffield FC)

 

In case you hadn’t noticed, and you should have done considering the ECB has gone into overdrive (panic) over the last week or so to promote it, the Kia Super League is up and running.

So far the games have been good and largely tight affairs.

I have, unashamedly done as the ECB has said to do and #showyourcolours, by supporting the Loughborough Lightning, my local team.

The Lightning kicked it all off on Sunday 31 July at Headingley against Yorkshire Diamonds. The away side put in an excellent performance beating the Diamonds by a whopping 43 runs and therefore earning themselves a bonus point.

Loughborough Lightning 128/9 (Devine 52)
Yorkshire Diamonds 85 all out (Grundy 3/21
Lightning win by 43 runs

Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (Taunton)
Thunder 83 all out (18.3 overs) (Taylor 4/14)
Storm 86/6 (15.3 overs) (Knight 23)
Storm win by 4 wickets

August 3

Loughborough Lightning v Lancashire Thunder (Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough)
Thunder 164/8 (Satterthwaite 52, Dottin 42)
Lightning 158 all out (Eccleston 3/23, Matthews 3/25)
Thunder win by 6 runs

I was there to see Lightning’s second match at home against Lancashire Thunder on Wednesday. They lost by six runs after nearly completing an amazing comeback when they needed 91 off the last 10 overs with just four wickets remaining. I wrote a full report of the match for Women’s Sports UK, which you can read here: http://www.womenssportsuk.com/cricket/match-report/lightning-comeback-in-vain-as-thunder-take-the-points-at-haslegrave

August 4

Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds (The Oval)
Diamonds 134/5 (Armitage 43)
Stars 135/4 (Beaumont 47) 18.1 overs
Stars win by 6 wickets

August 5

Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers (Blackpool)
Vipers 132/4 (McGlashan 54 not out)
Thunder 121/7 (Lamb 34, Satterthwaite 31)
Vipers win by 11 runs

Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm (Haslegrave Ground)
Lightning 158/8 (A Jones 46, Perry 44)
Storm 153/5 (Knight 74)
Lightning win by 5 runs

I was also present for this game. It was a much improved performance from the Lightning. The batting was good, bowling much better (especially Ellyse Perry) and the fielding was tighter. There were also fewer extras given away. It was an excellent game – my nerves were shredded three overs from the end when Heather Knight was going so well. Special mention too for the bowling of Sonia Odedra who took two wickets in a over which possibly changed the course of the game.

South Africa played Ireland this week in a two-match T20 series. The tourists are without some of their best players, including Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail and Dane van Niekerk, who are currently playing in the Kia Super League.

However, Ireland played well in both games, and bowled South Africa out in a low-scoring second match to win and draw the series.

August 1

First T20 International
Ireland 140/4 (Shillington 30, Joyce 31)
South Africa 144 off 20 overs (du Preez 55)
South Africa win by 4 wickets.

August 3

Second T20 International
Ireland 115/7 (Shillington 48)
South Africa 95 all out 19.3 overs (4 run outs)

Ireland win by 20 runs

A series of four One-Day Internationals began on 5 Aug

August 5

South Africa 283/7 (Tryon 92, Wolvaardt 55)
Ireland 194 all out 44.5 overs (Luus 6/36)
South Africa win by 89 runs

In other cricket news, Harmanpreet Kaur has become the first Indian woman cricketer to be signed up by the Australian Big Bash. She will play for reigning champions Sydney Thunder in the next tournament which begins in December.

 

Lizzie Armitstead has admitted that people will doubt she is clean after missing three drug tests. She was suspended and could have missed the Olympics if the first test had not been declared void.

She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for sport, which ruled that the official

“didn’t do what was reasonable and necessary” to find her and complete the test.

If she had not won her case she could have been banned for two years.

The 2016 Ride London Classique was won by Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild. She outsprinted fellow Netherlander Nina Kessler, with Canada’s Leah Kirchmann finishing third. She had already won the Tour de Yorkshire in April.

Sailing with Abby Ehler

In sailing this week Dee Caffari has been leading an all female team, with a mixture of girls from Oman and from the UK competing in the Farr 30 International’s in Barstad, Sweden. Dee has worked with the women’s program within Oman Sail for a number of years with the aim of encouraging the sport of sailing in Oman and providing opportunities for women to excel through sport.  This week’s event in Sweden has been a fantastic training opportunity for the Omani girls to gain exposure to different conditions and to learn from the professionals working with them who include Libby Greenhalgh, Abby Ehler, Kate MacGregor and Liz Wardley.

Next week is the Uk’s largest Sailing event; Cowes Week. This year for the first time The Magenta Project will be at Cowes Week aligning with Slingsby’s Ladies Day providing the opportunity for people to meet the Magenta team, for upcoming female UK talent to experience the high performance M32 catamaran.  Several members of The Magenta Project will be there including  Sam Davies (skipper of Team SCA and Vendee Globe competitor), Dee Caffari (5 times Round the World Sailor and World Record holder) and Libby Greenhalgh who are also all past winners of the Ladies Day Trophy as well as former Team SCA members Abby Ehler (2x Volvo Ocean Race sailor) and Annie Lush (2012 Olympian) will be on hand to share their experiences about the road to becoming professional sailors, balancing families and careers, the dedication and the challenges.

 

And finally, (American) football assistant coaches Jeff Banks and Jim Turner held a female fan event at Texas A&M University recently. There were 700 attendees. Part of the event was a slide show, meant to be educating the audience on various dos and don’ts of the game. But, oh dear. These are the four slides they came up with:

Pass – Blocking rules – the don’ts

  1. Don’t let him inside
  2. Keep your hips down
  3. Don’t go down

Pass – Blocking rules – the dos

  1. Spread them again
  2. Get erect
  3. Stay erect
  4. Bang him hard

Run – Blocking rules – the don’ts

  1. No penetration
  2. Never bend over
  3. Don’t end up on your back

Run – Blocking rules – the dos

  1. Spread your legs
  2. Enter front/not behind
  3. Push hard
  4. Finish on top

Yes, well. No doubt they thought it humorous at the time, but in retrospect how they must be regretting it. Head coach, Kevin Sumlin was not amused and has suspended the pair for a fortnight. In a statement he said,

“There is absolutely no place in our program or in our University community for inappropriate conduct or degrading comments towards women, or anyone, regardless of intent.”

I think we can all agree with that.

The Column will be back next week, although I know I won’t be able to keep up with all the Olympic news. It will, therefore, be a mixture of Olympic and non-Olympic stories, which I hope you will all find interesting. Enjoy the Games

Women’s Sports Column 2-8 April

LizzieArmitsteadThis week’s stories come from football, tennis, sailing, golf, cycling, athletics, cricket and netball,

There’s so much going on, I can’t keep up. This is a brilliant time for women’s sport, and yet, at the same time, we seem to have hit a new phase of unbelievably abysmal comment on just what a woman’s place in sport “should” be. Seems like everyone (men) has an opinion on this – and It’s usually not only misguided, but downright misogynistic.

But let’s crack on with the good stuff and deal with the rest later.

Lots of football news this week.

Former England coach, Hope Powell, has broken through yet another glass ceiling to become the first women appointed to the role of coach educator with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). She was the first woman to attain a UEFA Pro Licence in 2003.

Not such impressive news from America, where former USA favourite, Abby Wambach, has been arrested for drink driving. Wambach, who retired from football in December, has been a role model for American girls and women for a long time.

On her Facebook page she said:

“I take full responsibility for my actions. This is all on me,

“Those that know me know that I have always demanded excellence from myself. I have let myself and others down.”

The FA Cup semi-final line-up has been decided as the quarter finals took place this week:

 Chelsea 6-0 Aston Villa

 

It was only one-nil at half time and Villa must have thought they were in with a good chance of at least holding or even beating last year’s cup winners. They finally scored through Spence six minutes before the break. In the second the chances were converted to goals with Ji scoring a hat-trick and Kirby and Aluko chipping in with the others.

 

 

Manchester City 2-0 Sporting Club Albion

 

Goals from Parris and Ross saw Manchester City through to the semi-final as they beat the lowest-ranked club left in the competition.

 

Arsenal 2-2 Notts County (4-3 on penalties)

 

It took penalties for Arsenal to see off last year’s beaten finalists in a thrilling match that had a bit of everything. Smith scored the first for Arsenal, but Bradley-Auckland levelled the tie and then County took the lead through a Luik shot after a melee in the penalty area. White was sent off for County, who couldn’t quite hold on with 10 players – Sanchon equalising with just five minutes to go. The teams couldn’t be separated after extra time and the tie went to penalties. Both keepers saved two spot-kicks, and it was McCabe’s successful kick that put the Gunners through.

 

Sunderland 3-0 Reading

 

The home side were on top throughout as Mead scored the first and Williams the second as Sunderland went in 2-0 at half time. In the second half Reading had chances to reduce the arrears, but Chaplen added a third to put the tie beyond reach.

 

The semi-final draw has now been made. Both fixtures will be held on Sunday 17 April and will kick off at 2pm. Keep an eye out for details of broadcast coverage, as needless to say, it hasn’t been sorted yet.

 

Arsenal v Sunderland

Chelsea v Manchester City

 

 

 

Britain’s number two, Heather Watson, was knocked out in the first round of the Katowice Open this week. She lost to Czech player Kristyna Pliskova 6-2 3-6 6-4. The Czech is ranked 33 places lower than Watson, at 88 in the world. It was a tight match up to the last set, but Watson lost her first two service games of the third set to go 3-0 down and couldn’t recover.

 

Britain’s number three, Naomi Broady, went through to the second round after beating Karin Knapp in the first 6-7 6-4 6-4.

 

 

 

The worst news of the week comes from sailing. Sarah Young, an amateur sailor taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race died when she was washed overboard. She was recovered by the crew, who attempted to resuscitate her, but she didn’t regain consciousness.

The cause of death is thought to be drowning or exposure. The year-long race was sailing in the North Pacific at the time.

Because of the time it would take for the yacht to reach land, Ms Young was buried at sea, after consultation with her family.

Ms Young is the second person to die in this year’s event, after Andrew Ashman, a crew member on the same IchorCoal boat, died in September.

 

 

Good news from golf this week, as England’s Charley Hull finished joint second in the first women’s major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. Her previous best finish was tied seventh at the same tournament in 2014.

The wonderful Lydia Ko took the title on -12, with Hull and the Korean Chun, tied second on -11. Catriona Matthew of Scotland finished the tournament on -3 in a tie for 32nd place.

 

 

Lizzie Armistead took first in the women’s Tour of Flanders this week, which finished on Sunday 3 April. She won by only half a wheel from Emma Johansson of Sweden after a sprint finish. This is Armistead’s fourth win of the season, having already won at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Binda.

 

 

Nothing good coming out of athletics this week as the doping scandals go on and on. This week Russian Olympic and double world hammer champion Tatyana Lysenko was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance. Lysenko had previously been banned for two-years for steroid use in 2007.

Russia is currently banned from international athletics competition in the wake of the doping scandals last year. They are hoping to have the ban overturned in time to compete at Rio, but these continued revelations will not be helping their case.

 

 

By now you’ll all be aware of the outcome of the Women’s World T20 in India. I have written extensively on it for Women’s Sports Uk the past three weeks, including a full report of the final and today I have published my thoughts on the tournament as a whole.

The final was a great spectacle and West Indies worthy winners.

They may not have been able to take a fourth consecutive World T20 title, but Cricket Australia has announced that their female players are to receive a significant pay rise.

The top-ranked players will now earn $65,000 as basic, while those on the minimum will go from $19,000 to $40,000.

Cricket Australia is also the only governing body that guarantees its female national team will fly business class along with the men.

 

The latest round of Vitality Netball Superleague fixtures, on Saturday 2 April, brought the following results:

Yorkshire Jets 45-50 Team Northumbria

Manchester Thunder p-p Hertfordshire Mavericks

This match was called off after umpires expressed concern over the safety of the players because of water on the court.

Surrey Storm 52-42 Loughborough Lightning

Mavericks are now top by three points over Thunder in second, Storm in third and Bath fourth. Jets are still bottom having failed to win any games this season.

 

And finally, back to the sexist claptrap and misogyny that seems to have raised its ugly head this week. I think it all kicked off with the tennis: “women players should get down on their knees” and be thankful to the men for propping up the women’s game all these years lines that came from .., (no former) CEO of the Indian Wells tennis tournament. Since then it seems to have become fair game for men to stick their sexist oar in. Top of the pile is this execrable scribbling from Toby Young in the Daily Mail. I don’t really want to dignify it with a link, but read it and weep.  As it was published on 1st April, there was a rumour it was an April Fool’s joke, but I’m afraid not…

And finally, finally, sorry but no column next week as I’m away, but back the following week with all the news.

 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column

netball220-26 February

This week’s stories come from tennis, netball, cricket, winter sports, hockey and cycling. Extra bits of early Saturday 27 news as I’m late posting!

Poor fortunes for all of Britain’s top tennis players this week. British number two, Heather Watson, lost in the first round of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco. She was beaten by American Christina McHale 4-6 6-0 7-6.

British number one, Johanna Konta, fared little better, getting to round two before she lost to Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6 6-2 7-5.

And Laura Robson has suffered yet another setback in her quest for fitness. Her wrist injury has forced her to pull out of the Monterrey tour event next week. She had been targeting the French Open in May for her Grand Slam return, but this may now be in doubt.

 

After losing Sasha Corbin to injury for the season, Loughborough Lightning have suffered another blow with Jade Clarke announcing she is to leave to play for Adelaide Thunderbirds. The Australian season starts in April, which means she will only be able to play three more games for the Lightning, ending with the game at Team Bath on March 4.

In an interview with the Loughborough Sport website, Loughborough’s executive director of sport, John Steele, expressed his opinion at losing a player mid-season,

“We are extremely disappointed with the way Adelaide Thunderbirds have conducted themselves.  Approaching one of our players directly, midway through the season has been very disruptive and has put our player in a difficult position. Our focus now is to ensure we have the best possible support structure in place for our squad as we move forward with our 2016 season.”

Here are the scores from this week’s games:

Team Northumbria         48           44           Yorkshire Jets

Surrey Storm                     62           40           Celtic Dragons

Yorkshire Jets                    38           51           Hertfordshire Mavericks

So, the table stands as follows:

   

Played

Points

1 Manchester Thunder

4

12

2 Hertfordshire Mavericks

4

12

3 Surrey Storm

4

9

4 Team Bath

4

9

5 Loughborough Lightning

4

6

6 Team Northumbria

5

3

7 Yorkshire Jets

5

0

8 Celtic Dragons

4

0

                                                                              

Lots of cricket news again this week. England finally triumphed 2-1 against South Africa in their three-match T20 series. After losing the second game poorly, England seemed in a more determined mood from the start. Edwards won the toss and put South Africa in. South Africa posted a decent total of 131/4, but England batted well, with another match-winning innings of 60 runs from Sarah Taylor, saw England win with 27 balls to spare. The only fly in the ointment was the quality of the England fielding which, at times, was abysmal. It will have to improve before the T20 World Cup in March. For a more depth analysis of the series read my article for www.womenssportsuk.com.

On the domestic front, more details of the new summer Superleague were released this week. The six host (the ECB are still allergic to the word “franchise”) names have been released. They are: Lancashire Thunder (playing at Old Trafford), Loughborough Lightning – that’s not confusing is it? (playing at Loughborough University), Southern Vipers (playing at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton), Surrey Stars (playing at the Kia Oval), Western Storm (playing at Bristol and Taunton) and Yorkshire Diamonds (playing at Headingley).

The games will be played between July 30 and August 14 – 15 group matches in 16 days. Finals day will be on Sunday August 21 and will be played at Essex’s county ground in Chelmsford.

News of squads will follow shortly.

 

The epic hockey series between Great Britain and Australia finally came to an end in the home side’s favour as they beat Britain 3-2 in the final Test to take the six-game series 2-1.

The Hockeyroos took the lead after five minutes thorough a Georgina Morgan penalty corner and the lead was doubled just before half time through a goal from Emily Smith. The game seemed to be beyond GB when Grace Stewart scored a third five minutes into the second half. Great Britain fought back through Sophie Bray and Joie Leigh, but were unable to find the equaliser.

The team were heartened by this performance and by the series as a whole. It stands them in good stead for the build up to the Olympics in Rio later in the year.

 

What started out as a good week for Lindsey Vonn ended in agony. She won the downhill title in La Thuile, Italy, a record 20th World Cup trophy, as she finished second in the penultimate race to go 173 points ahead of Canadas Larisa Yurkiw, with only 100 points left to win in the last race.

But on Saturday 27, Vonn crashed out in the World Cup super-G event in Soldeu-El Tarter, Andorra, and was taken to hospital. The American team spokeswoman reported that Vonn has hurt her knee, but the extent of her injury is, as yet, unknown. The race was stopped for ten minutes to allow a rescue sled to access the course and take the injured skier away.

In other skiing news, Vanessa-Mae has been awarded damages for defamation from the FIS (International Ski Federation). They had claimed that her qualification for the 2014 Winter Olympics had come through fixed races, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared her of any wrongdoing.  The FIS has apologised and Vanessa-Mae intends to donate her damages to charity. Her four year ban was also overturned. She intends to try to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

In curling, Eve Muirhead’s rink was named Scottish curling champion this week. It is sixth time that Muirhead’s team has become champion, and will now represent Scotland in the World Women’s Curling Championships in Canada in March.

I didn’t get chance to report on another gold for Great Britain in the Winter Youth Olympics last week. Ashleigh Pittaway won the skeleton bob in one minute 50.23 seconds, 0.96 seconds ahead of Germany’s Hannah Neise. Madi Rowlands had taken Britain’s first gold in the ski halfpipe on Sunday 21 and added a bronze to her tally on Friday, this time in the sky slopestyle.

Cycling road race world champion Lizzie Armitstead has started her season in the best possible way, winning the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium. Her team mate Chantal Blaak took second with Tiffany Cromwell in third.

And finally, last week saw the SJA British Sports Journalist awards. In the 31 categories, there were only six women writers, six photographers and two broadcasters nominated. I could write about men’s sport – I love it – and possibly earn a living, but I choose to write about women’s. This is a whole different matter.  It is still incredibly hard for a woman to make it in the macho world of sports journalism, writing about men’s sport – it’s even harder to build any kind of profile writing about women’s sport. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there are a lot of people (women and men) doing their very best to promote women’s sport for absolutely no remuneration whatsoever (including me). Rarely will any of these people receive the recognition they are due. It’s not that they don’t need or want to make money, but until women’s sport is seen as worthy of sponsorship, mainstream coverage etc., etc., this situation will continue.