Welcome to this week’s column. The motorsport issue is still causing fierce debate, but there’s so much more to offer this week with stories from winter sports, hockey, rugby league and union, netball, football, gymnastics, athletics, golf, tennis and cricket! Unfortunately, also two disturbing and despicable “and finally” items this week.
So let’s crack on….
The biggest story this week, as regards British athletes, has to be that Lizzy Yarnold, two time Olympic gold medallist, has announced her retirement from the skeleton.
She is Britain’s most decorated Winter Olympian, having defended the title she won in 2014 at Pyeongchang in 2018. She also won World Championship gold in 2015 and bronze in 2012 and 2017, World Cup gold in 2013-14 and silver in 2014-15 and European Championship gold in 2015.
It is no secret that the skeleton has taken its toll on her body, with her back and knees taking the brunt of this punishing sport. She also suffers from vestibular disorder which affects her inner ear and brain, causing dizziness.
Yarnold’s decision may have been hastened by former teammate Amy Williams’ revelation that her skeleton career has caused her so much back and knee pain that she has had to sell her house and move into a bungalow.
Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that Yarnold is a brilliant role-model for would-be winter sports athletes and I’m sure she’ll stay involved in sport, perhaps working with youngsters and their motivation and I would like to offer my congratulations to her on a stunning career.
Rugby League – Super League Grand Final
Leeds Rhinos 16-18 Wigan Warriors
Wigan defeated Leeds Rhinos in the Grand final on Saturday with a penalty in the last minute.
Leeds took the lead through Rhiannon Marshall, but Wigan were ahead at the break 8-6. Rachel Thompson scored a hat-trick of tries and Georgia Wilson one try as Wigan pulled 10 points ahead.
But Leeds were not done. They drew level to 16 points all with tries from Caitlin Beevers and Suze Hill with two goals from Courtney Hill.
With one minute to go, Wigan were awarded a penalty and Charlotte Foley calmly slotted it home to take the two points and the game.
Leeds have still had a great season, winning the League Leaders’ Shield and the Challenge Cup.
Tennis – on the court
Jo Konta is through to the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup. She had a fine win in the first round of the beating seventh seed Elise Mertens 6-3 7-5. In the round of 16 she defeated Daria Gavrilova in three sets 6-4 3-6 6-3 and in the quarter-final she overcame Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 7-6.
She faces sixth seed Daria Kasatkina in the semi-final. The first semi is between Ons Jabeur and fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova.
We are also at the semi-final stage of the Luxembourg Open where top seed Julia Goerges meets Eugenie Bouchard and Belinda Bencic comes up against ninth seed Dayana Yastremska.
Tennis – off the court
Britain’s Katie Boulter is into the top 100 of the WTA world rankings for the first time.
Last week she lost at the quarter-final stage of the Tianjin Open to world number six Karolina Pliskova.
Now the 22-year old from Leicester is ranked 96 in the world.
Race to Singapore
She was due to be number one seed at the WTA Finals which begin on 21 October, but Simona Halep has had to withdraw due to her ongoing back injury. Kiki Bertens, who finished ninth in qualifying, takes her place. The full line-up is as follows:
(1. Simona Halep)
After the hideousness of the Larry Nassar scandal, it is up to USA Gymnastics to get its house in order, and quickly. Unfortunately, it seems they have failed spectacularly this week.
It had appointed Mary Bono as interim head, but after objections by Olympic champions Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, Bono has resigned after just four days in post.
First Biles criticised Bono for appearing to oppose Nike’s Colin Kaepernick advertising campaign.
Bono has responded that she did not oppose the campaign because of Kaepernick’s stance over racial injustice, but because of the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”. She said she was responding as someone who has lost family serving in the armed forces – the ultimate sacrifice.
But it Raisman has also raised the issue that Bono was a solicitor at the law firm that represented Larry Nassar in 2015. Bono did not represent him directly, but the firm and the sport’s administrators were aware of abuse allegations at the time.
Nassar was sentenced to 300 years in prison for child pornography and sexual abuse charges. He abused both Biles and Raisman while coaching for USA Gymnastics.
Time for USA Gymnastics to think again.
World Cup Qualifying
Three more countries qualified for next year’s World Cup this week. The USA and Canada qualified from the CONCACAF Women’s Championship as finalists. USA beat Canada 2-0 in the final with goals from Rose Lavelle in the second minute and Alex Morgan in the 89th.
There was an historic result in the third-place play-off as Jamaica defeated Panama 4-2 to qualify for their first World Cup finals. The match ended 2-2 in normal time and the deadlock still could not be broken in extra-time. So it went to penalties. Jamaica coach, Hue Menzies, took off the first-choice goalkeeper in the last minute of extra time to bring on Nicole Mcclure, a renowned shot-stopper, a manoeuvre that paid off as Mcclure saved two penalties while the Jamaicans scored all their four.
Panama still have a chance to qualify, but they have to beat Argentina, who finished third in the Copa America Femenina. First leg is Monday 5 November and the second is just over a week later on Tuesday 13. Brazil and Chile have qualified for next year’s finals after finishing top and second respectively.
Chelsea 1-0 Fiorentina
Chelsea may rue their missed chances when it comes to the second leg in Florence in two weeks. Emma Hayes had made seven changes to the team that were demolished 5-0 by Arsenal at the weekend.
Chelsea played well and were most often on the front foot, with chances for Fran Kirby, Ramona Bachmann (who ran and ran all night) and Millie Bright.
The only goal of the game came from Karen Carney from the penalty spot on eight minutes.
Fiorentina seemed happy to sit back and try to hit Chelsea on the break, but in truth it would have been most unjust if they had scored an equaliser.
Some fine goalkeeping from Fiorentina’s Stephanie Öhrström kept the score down and Fiorentina will go into the second leg confident of overturning the 1-0 deficit.
Barcelona 5-0 Glasgow City
Glasgow contributed to their own downfall with a series of mistakes and now the tie seems to be over.
Barcelona were three-up at half-time with goals from Kheira Hamraoui, Aitana Bonmati and Patricia Guijarro. After the break the onslaught continued and two more goals from Andressa Alves and Maria Leon ensured a thumping first leg win for the Spanish team.
Other Champions League scores:
Wolfsburg 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Zurich 0-2 Bayern Munich
Ajax 0-4 Lyon (a goal for Izzy Christiansen for Lyon in this match)
FC Rosengard 2-3 Slavia Praha
Linkoping 0-2 Paris St Germain
Lillestrom SK 1-1 Brondby
The Round of 16 second leg matches are 31 October and 1 November.
Football – English Domestic
Arsenal are on Fire, as the current idiom would have it. They put five past Chelsea at the weekend away from home to stay top of the table, but they need to watch out as Manchester City also seems to be hitting their straps at last.
Super League Results from Sunday 14 October:
Bristol City 0-1 Birmingham City
Everton 3-3 Brighton & Hove Albion
Kaagman 27’, George 46’, Kelly 70’
Buet 2’, Brazil 75’ 78’
Liverpool 2-1 Yeovil Town
Linnett 18’, Clarke 87’
Manchester City 7-1 West Ham United
Weir 2’, Parris 7’ 17’, Stanway 72’ 80’, Houghton 76’, Wullaert 86’
De Graaf 82’
Chelsea 0-5 Arsenal
Little 21’ (pen), Miedema 38’ 57’, Nobbs 52’ 67’
On the negative side for Arsenal, Scotland striker Kim Little fractured her leg in the match and will be out for approximately 10 weeks. According to social media it was a bad tackle by Drew Spence that took her out and she should have been red carded, although she was only booked.
Arsenal are top from Birmingham City on goal difference. Both teams have 12 points, the Gunners from four games and the Blues from five. Manchester City are a point behind in third. At the bottom, Yeovil are still without a point and Brighton are above them with just one.
Championship results from 14 October:
Millwall Lionesses 1-2 Leicester City
Axten 61’ 77’
Crystal Palace 1-0 London Bees
Aston Villa 0-0 Durham
Lewes 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Baptiste 16’, Dean 32’ 45’
Manchester United 3-0 Charlton Athletic
Zelem 16’, Sigsworth 57’, Arnott 75’
Who can stop Manchester United from running away with it? They are top with 13 points from five games. Spurs are second a point behind, but from four games, and Leicester are third with nine from five. At the bottom, Villa and Millwall have a point each but Villa have a terrible goal difference (-17).
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The introduction of the IAAF’s new testosterone rules has had to be delayed due to a legal challenge from Athletics South African (ASA) and 800m runner Caster Semenya.
The new ruling was due to come in on 1 November, but that has now been put back to 26 March 2019.
However, the ruling states that female athletes have to keep their testosterone levels below the prescribed amount for at least six months before competing.
This means that the athletes affected (primarily Semenya), will not be allowed to run for six months from the date the rule comes in. If the March date happens, six months from then will be 26 September, just one day before the start of the World Athletics Championships in Doha.
More to come as it happens.
Investec Women’s Hockey league Premier Division
Last weekend’s results were as follows:
Holcombe 2-1 Canterbury
Beeston 4-3 Clifton Robinsons
Surbiton 1-0 University of Birmingham
Slough 0-3 East Grinstead
Buckingham 2-1 Bowdon
So the Surbiton juggernaut rolls on. They are top on 10 points from four games. Second are Holcombe with the same points but an inferior goal difference. Buckingham lie third on eight points. At the bottom Slough lost again and still have only one point. Canterbury and Bowdon are just above them with two.
This weekend’s fixtures:
Surbiton v Bowdon (12 noon, Surbiton Hockey Club)
University of Birmingham v Canterbury (4pm, Birmingham Uni P1)
Buckingham v Beeston (12 noon, Stowe School P1)
Clifton Robinsons v Slough (1pm, Coombe Dingle, P1)
Holcombe v East Grinstead (2pm, Holcombe Hockey Club, P1)
Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:
DMP Sharks 15-7 Richmond
Saracens 21-5 Wasps
Loughborough Lightning 36-18 Bristol Bears
Worcester Valkyries 19-69 Harlequins
Firwood Waterloo 10-43 Gloucester-Hartpury
After five games Saracens are top with 24 points. Loughborough are second with the same number of points but an inferior goal difference. Harlequins are third on 18. At the bottom, Worcester have only two points having lost all of their games so far. Firwood Waterloo lie above them on five.
This weekend’s fixtures are:
Wasps v Richmond (2pm, Twyford Avenue Sports Ground)
Bristol Bears v Firwood Waterloo (2.30pm, Shaftsbury Park)
Harlequins v Saracens (3pm, Surrey Sports Park)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Worcester Valkyries (4.30pm)
Loughborough Lightning v DMP Sharks (5pm, Loughborough University)
Young Sports Personality of the Year
The shortlist for Young Sports Personality of the Year has been announced. There are six girls and women in the list of 10:
Kare Adenegan (17) (Para-athletics)
Freya Anderson (17) (Swimming)
Georgia-Mae Fenton (17) (Gymnastics)
Anna Hursey (12) (Table tennis)
Georgia Roche (17) (Rugby League)
Maisie Summers-Newton (16) (Para-Swimming)
Check out the credentials of the contenders here
A full house at the Copper Box saw Wasps Netball win the second Fast5 Allstars tournament at the weekend. They beat the benecosMavericks 42-32 in the final.
The series of results were as follows:
Double elimination stage
Loughborough Lightning 19-21 Surrey Storm
Strathclyde Sirens 4-15 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-18 Manchester Thunder
benecosMavericks 31-41 Wasps Netball
Surrey Storm 12-28 Severn Stars
Team Bath 23-37 Wasps Netball
Loughborough Lightning 32-28 Strathclyde Sirens
Manchester Thunder 22-32 bencosMavericks
Surrey Storm 15-6 Loughborough Lightning
Team Bath 21-47 benecosMavericks
Wasps Netball 45-36 Surrey Storm
Severn Stars 8-38 benecosMavericks
Wasps Netball 42-32 benecosMavericks
There are a number of “warm-up” tournaments before the Vitality Netball Superleague begins in January. Check out your favourite team’s website to see who they’re playing.
Meanwhile England Roses have suffered a disappointing series defeat against Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls in Kingston. England were without some of their star names, but with the World Cup next year, Tracy Neville will be concerned that none of the three matches was particularly close.
Jamaica 55-43 England
Jamaica 58-39 England
Jamaica 58-43 England
It was an easy a start to a series as Australia could wish for as they demolished Pakistan in a rain-affected first ODI in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Pakistan 95 all out (37.2 overs)
Australia 95/5 chasing revised target of 92 (22.2 overs)
Australia won by five wickets with 112 balls remaining
The rain hit when Pakistan were 76/6 and reduced the game to 41 overs per side, but Pakistan were in deep trouble already by then. Sana Mir made 21 not out and captain Javeria Khan also made 21, but Megan Schutt took 3/17 from 7.2 overs and Nicola Carey 3/19 off 7 as the home side slumped to 95 all out.
Australia’s target was revised to 92 via the D/L method. They started well with an opening stand of 40 before Alyssa Healy was out for 26 in the seventh over. Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry went cheaply (four and one respectively), both wickets falling to Sana Mir, who eventually took 3/26 in seven overs. After Nicole Bolton was out for 22 it was up to Rachael Haynes and Beth Mooney to see it home. Haynes was out with just one needed, but Ash Gardner came in to back up Mooney and take the win.
The only real positive for Pakistan is that they took five Australian wickets.
Reports from the rest of the series next week.
Laura Davies has won the Senior LPGA in Indiana. She finished four ahead of the field on -8. Helen Alfredsson of Sweden and Silvia Cavalleri of the US were tied for second on -4. Of the other British players, Trish Johnson finished on +3 and Catriona Matthew +4.
This is Davies’ second senior major win of the year, after winning the US Senior Women’s Open in July.
I have neither the space nor time do justice to the subjects of this week’s “And Finally”.
This week Chelsea winger Karen Carney received abuse, rape and death threats on Instagram after Chelsea’s win over Fiorentina on Wednesday.
You will know how much I tend to “go on” about the abuse women receive on social media and on “Have Your Say” sections of websites, but there has been talk that the abuse of Carney is of “another level”. Is it? Is it not part of the same systematic degradation of women in sport (and in other areas of public life) that goes on every day? It’s despicable and unacceptable and sends chills right through me, but I would say, seeing the stuff that gets through the comments pages, I would imagine it is probably on a level with those comments that are “moderated and removed because they have broken house rules.”
No-one should have to contend with this, be they woman or man – no-one should be threatened for doing their job, be that on the pitch, as a journalist, an administrator or an activist.
What is on “another level”, however, is the news from Mexico that a woman who spent her life working to promote women’s football, Marbella Ibarra, has been murdered. It is not known whether her links to football made her a target, but it has certainly brought home to me yet again that while words are upsetting and unacceptable, women all over the world are being killed or suffer violence for their thoughts, actions and stances.
Read the full story of the death of Marbella Ibarra here
I in no way mean to belittle what Carney and many, many other women have gone through – goodness knows I try to highlight it and call it out as much as I can. I also realise that violent words can often escalate into violent behaviour, so we should always investigate this kind of abuse and find out the motivation behind it. But I also realise that social media is not the be-all and end-all of life. Some people are living through real-life horror stories every day. And some may not survive it.
More news and views next week.