Women’s Sports Column 20-26 October 2018

CAYFS5MZWelcome to this week’s column.  Plenty to get through yet again with stories from rugby union, football, cricket, tennis, athletics, hockey, volleyball, golf, netball, boxing and taekwondo, plus the result of the Young Sportsperson of the Year award winner.   Also, from the seriousness of last week’s “And Finally” we come to the ridiculous of this week’s….

Let’s crack on.

Tennis – on the Court

Kremlin Cup

Jo Konta couldn’t quite make it to the final of the Kremlin Cup, succumbing to eventual winner and sixth seed Daria Kasatkina, 6-4 6-3.  In the other semi-final Ons Jabeur beat fifth seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Daria Kasatkina won the final, 2-6 7-6 6-4.

Luxembourg Open

In the Luxembourg Open semi-finals, Belinda Bencic defeated ninth seed Dayana Yastremska 6-2 3-6 7-6 and top seed Julia Goerges beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-7  7-5 6-1.

Goerges went on to win the final 6-4 7-5.

WTA Finals

Of course all eyes are now on Singapore and the fierce competition at the end of season finals.

Red Group:
Angelique Kerber
Naomi Osaka
Sloane Stephens
Kiki Bertens

Matches so far:
Stephens beat Osaka 7-5 4-6 6-1
Bertens beat Kerber 1-6 6-3 6-4
Kerber beat Osaka 6-4 5-7 6-4
Stephens beat Bertens 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3

White Group
Caroline Wozniacki
Petra Kvitova
Elina Svitolina
Karolina Pliskova

Matches so far:
Svitolina beat Kvitova 6-3 6-3
Pliskova beat Wozniacki 6-2 6-4
Wozniacki beat Kvitova 7-5 3-6 6-2
Svitolina beat Pliskova 6-3 2-6 6-3
Pliskova beat Kvitova 6-3 6-4
Svitolina beat Wozniacki 5-7 7-5 6-3

More news of who eventually triumphed next week.

Tennis – off the Court

After her exit from the WTA Finals at the group stage, Caroline Wozniacki has revealed that she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in August.

She said,

“In the beginning, it was a shock.  It’s obviously not ideal for anybody, and I think when you’re a professional athlete, it’s also not even more ideal.

“I think I didn’t want to talk about it during the year because I don’t want to give anyone the edge or thinking that I’m not feeling well, but I have been feeling well.

“You learn how to just cope after matches. Some days you wake up and you can’t get out of bed and you just have to know that’s how it is, but other days you live and you’re fine. You don’t even feel like you have it.”

There is no cure, but the symptoms of pain and swelling in the joints can be relieved by medication and treatment.

We cannot know at this stage just how and how fast the condition will progress, but Wozniacki is determined to fight through as far as she is able.

Taekwondo

There were a series of excellent results for British women at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester over the weekend.

First, Lauren Williams won gold in the -68kg division, beating Matea Jelic of Croatia in the final 15-10.

Then Bianca Walkden took silver in the +67kg category, losing 6-4 to Olympic champion Zheng Shuyin of China in the final.

And finally, two-time Olympic champion, Jade Jones, won the -57kg title, beating Zhou Lijun of China 11-4 in the final.

Volleyball

Two weeks of Women’s Super League results to catch up on:

13 October
Tendring VC Ladies 3-0 Sheffield Hallam (25-16, 25-19, 25-15)
Polonia SideOut London 0-3 London Orcas (17-25, 10-25, 10-25)
Durham Palatinates 3-0 Bristol VC 1 (25-12, 25-4, 25-8)
Malory Eagles UEL 3-0 Birmingham Volleyball Club 1 (25-22, 22-14, 25-9)

20 October
Sheffield Hallam 3-0 Bristol VC 1 (25-17, 25-14, 25-12)
Team BU Wessex 0-3 Durham Palatinates (25-15, 25-19, 25-11)
Malory Eagles UEL 3-0 Polonia SideOut London (25-13, 26-24, 25-12)

Most teams have now played two games.  Durham are top with two wins from two with Malory Eagles second, also with two wins from two but with an inferior points quotient.  Three teams have no points, Polonia from two games and Birmingham and Wessex from only one.

Football

Last weekend’s Super League results:

Yeovil Town 1-2 Bristol City
Gaylor 33’
Graham 32’, 73’

Brighton & Hove Albion 0-6 Manchester City
Stanway 21’ 64’ 68’, Weir 43’, Parris 87’, Emslie 91’

Birmingham City 0-0 Chelsea

West Ham 0-1 Liverpool
Sweetman-Kirk 7’

Reading 0-6 Arsenal
Miedema 3’ 49’ 85’, Nobbs 7’, Mead 47’, Van de Donk 76’

It’s as you were at the top with another big win for Arsenal.  Five wins from five for the Gunners and a massive +24 goal difference.  Manchester City are second with 14 from six games and Birmingham third with 13, also from six.  At the bottom, Yeovil are still without a point and Brighton sit just above them with one point from six games.

Championship results:

London Bees 3-2 Lewes
Beckett 11’ 44’, Gould 63’
Quayle 17’, Kempson 26’

Charlton Athletic 2-0 Sheffield United
Stobbs 42’, Clifford 72’

Durham 2-0 Crystal Palace
Roberts 57’, Watling 89’ OG

Leicester City 1-1 Aston Villa
Axten 43’ (Pen)
Hutton 20’

Tottenham Hotspur 8-0 Millwall Lionesses
Addison 21’ 83’, Dean 29’ 50’ 71’, Wiltshire 30’, Neville 37’, Baptiste 62’

Tottenham are top of the Championship with their stunning 8-0 win over the Lionesses.  They have 15 points from five games.  Manchester United are second with 13 from five.  At the bottom, Millwall have a single point from five games and Aston Villa are just above them on two from five.

World Cup Build-up

More friendlies have been announced this week.

Scotland will play USA in Paisley on 13 November.  It will be the US’s first game in Scotland.  The question is, can the US do it on a wet Tuesday in Paisley?

England, meanwhile, will face Austria in Vienna on Thursday 8 November and then Sweden at Rotherham’s New York stadium on Sunday 11 November.

Hockey – on the Pitch

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

20 October
Surbiton 6-0 Bowdon

21 October
Holcombe 1-2 East Grinstead
Clifton Robinsons 1-1 Slough
Buckingham 1-2 Beeston
University of Birmingham 1-1 Canterbury

Surbiton march on.  Four wins from five and top of the table with 13 points.  Holcombe and East Grinstead lie second and third on 10 points.  Bowdon are bottom on two points.  Slough also have two points but are second from bottom on goal difference.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Saturday 27 October
Slough v Holcombe (12.30pm, Slough Hockey Club)
Bowdon v University of Birmingham (13.45pm, Bowdon Club)
East Grinstead v Clifton Robinsons (2pm, East Grinstead Hockey Club)
Beeston v Surbiton (4pm, Nottingham Hockey Club P1)
Canterbury v Buckingham (4pm, Polo Farm SC – P1)

Hockey – off the Pitch            

Women’s Hockey will finally have a new European league, launching in 2020.

The men’s league, which features the top 24 teams in Europe, has been in existence since 2007.

European Hockey is yet to finalise details, but it’s a great move and one that has been a long time coming.  We look to hockey to be a leader in sporting equality, so it is good to see that the women will, at last, get their chance.

Rugby Union – Off the Pitch

The long-running dispute between Coleraine Rugby club and Ulster Rugby seems to be at an end.  The authorities have now fined the club £5,000 for the incident in which a female referee was verbally abused at the club last season.

Colleagues of the referee, thought to be Grainne Crabtree, staged a protest and refused to officiate at Coleraine’s home matches until a satisfactory result had been reached.  They have now ended this protest, but it still is not clear whether the official has received an apology from the club.

The club has refused to comment as to what reparations have been made.

In a statement, the club somewhat disingenuously said,

“Coleraine Rugby Club is pleased that there has been a resolution to the long-running dispute involving rugby’s Ulster Branch Referees Society and the club,” a spokesperson said.

“The club has accepted the decision of the Ulster Branch review into this matter.

“We are now looking forward to giving a warm welcome to all referees and teams visiting our club for matches this week and in the future.”

It is unlikely that we will ever know just what the “resolution” has been.

Rugby Union – on the Pitch

Last weekend’s Premier 15s results were as follows:

20 October 2018
Wasps Ladies 31-15 Richmond Women
Loughborough Lightning 59-3 DMP Sharks
Gloucester-Hartpury 67-3 Worcester Valkyries
Harlequins 20-17 Saracens
Bristol Bears 75-13 Firwood Waterloo

It was a chastening weekend for both Worcester and Firwood Waterloo at the bottom, while at the top a shock defeat for Saracens sees a new leader.  Loughborough Lightning are now top with six wins from six and 29 points, including five bonus points.  Saracens are second with 25 and Harlequins third on 22.  At the bottom, there is no respite for Worcester who still have only two bonus points and Firwood Waterloo just above them on five.

This weekend’s fixtures:

27 October
Firwood Waterloo v Loughborough Lightning (12.30pm, Firwood Waterloo Rugby Club)
Worcester Valkyries v Bristol Bears (2pm, Sixways Stadium)
DMP Sharks v Wasps Ladies (5pm, Northern Echo Arena)

28 October
Richmond Women v Harlequins (3.30pm, Richmond Athletic Ground)
Saracens v Gloucester-Hartpury (3.45pm, Allianz Park)

Rugby Sevens

New Zealand powered their way to yet another win in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Glendale, Colorado.

They defeated USA 33-7 in the final.  There was a hat-trick of tries for Portia Woodman, and one each for Sarah Goss and Niall Williams.  Tyla Nathan-Wong kicked four conversions.  The US scored one try, through Nicole Heavirland which was converted by Alev Kelter.

Canada beat France 28-0 in the bronze final.

Australia took fifth, beating Ireland in the fifth place play-off 21-19 and England finished eighth, beaten in the seventh place play-off by Russia 17-14.

The next round is in Dubai on 29-30 November.

Boxing

Katie Taylor retained her IBF and WBA titles at the weekend with a unanimous points victory over Cindy Serrano in Boston.

Taylor has now won all 11 fights since turning professional in2016.

BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year

Kare Adenegan has been named 2018 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year.

Adenegan has had a storming year, taking Hannah Cockcroft’s world record in the T34 100m.  She also took gold in the same event at the Para-athletics European games in Berlin, again beating Cockcroft in the process and also took silver in the T34 800m.

The original shortlist was whittled down to three, the other two being swimmer Freya Anderson and jockey James Bowen.

The shortlist and winner were chosen by a panel including BBC presenters, current and former sporting stars and two representatives from the Youth Sport Trust.

Athletics

Great South Run

Eilish McColgan won the Great South Run at her first attempt last weekend.

The race, run over 10 miles (16 km) was held in Portsmouth and Southsea.

McColgan won in a time of 54:43 with Steph Twell in second in 55:15 and last year’s champion Gemma Steel in third in a time of 56:56.

Netball

England Netball Investment

We all know that the seemingly best-supported women’s sport actually usually hangs precariously over a precipice, so news of any investment is welcome.

In January England Netball revealed it had a shortfall in funding which could have resulted in cuts to the England programme, but this week came the announcement that Vitality will extend its sponsorship of English netball for another three years.

Joanna Adams, Chief Executive of England Netball said,

“We want netball to be a career, and a career option for players and coaches. We want it to be a fully professional sport with a fully professional Superleague and we want to keep our young athletes in netball.

“As women’s football, cricket and rugby grow, we just can’t be left behind as a sport.”

“The Australian league is still the best in the world,” Adams added.

“But in the next three to four years we want to be as competitive as Australia, we want our top English stars playing in this league and we want to attract some of the top internationals too.

“We need more investment in Superleague so it is a similar environment to the national squad.”

So the immediate future for netball in England is bright.  I’m not sure about the England team being now known as the “Vitality Roses”, but needs must, I suppose.  Possibly marginally less bizarre than the Samsung Diamonds….

Fast 5 World Series

This weekend sees the third edition of the Fast 5 World Series.  It takes place at the Melbourne Arena in Melbourne, Australia on 27-28 October.

New Zealand won the first event in 2016 and England the second in 2017.  This will be the third and last time (for now) that the tournament will be held in Australia.

All teams will play six 24 minute games across the two-day series. Each team will feature on both days of competition, with finals held on Sunday.

The countries taking part are Australia, New Zealand, England, Malawi, Jamaica and South Africa.

The whole event is live on Sky Sports.

Cricket

Australia sealed a 3-0 win over Pakistan in their ODI series this week.  After skittling Pakistan for 95 in the first ODI, they pressed home their advantage to take the series easily.

Second ODI – Kuala Lumpur
20 October
Australia 273/7 (50 overs)
Pakistan 123 all out (40.1 overs)
Australia won by 150 runs

Captain Meg Lanning hit 124 and put on a stand of 181 runs with Rachael Haynes, who scored 79 as the Southern Stars made a fine 273/7 in their 50 overs.

In response Nahida Khan made 66, but no-one else could muster a score as Pakistan were all out for 123.  Sophie Molineux took 4/14 off nine overs.  Ash Gardner and Megan Schutt took two wickets each.

Third ODI – Kuala Lumpur
22 October
Australia 324/7 (50 overs)
Pakistan 235/7 (50 overs)
Australia won by 89 runs

Alyssa Healy fell three short of a century before she was bowled by Diana Baig.  Nicole Bolton was the only player to miss out, lbw for a duck to Sana Mir.  Everyone else got into double figures as the Australians put on an imposing 324/7.  Sana Mir took 3/53 from her 10 overs, and in doing so became number one ranked bowler in women’s ODIs.

Pakistan started well in response.  They had reached 49 before the first wicket fell, Muneeba Ali caught by Molineux off Gardner for 15.

Most of the Pakistanis got starts, but they soon fell behind the required rate.  Aliya Riaz top-scored with 51, but Pakistan fell short by 89 runs.  Gardner was again in the wickets, taking 3/44 off her 10 overs.

Golf – on the Course

Indian Open

Becky Morgan won her first professional tournament at the weekend, at the 119th time of asking.  She took the Indian Open title by two shots, finishing on -7.  Caroline Hedwall (Swe), Christine Wolf (Aut), Nicole Broch Larsen (Den) and Felicity Johnson (Eng) tied for second on -5.

In her 18-year professional career Morgan has had 22 top-10 finishes.

Golf – off the Course

The fourth oldest golf club in the world, the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society in Edinburgh, has voted to accept women members.  It has only taken them 257 years.

The club announced that 83.7% of members who voted were in favour of admitting women. The turnout was 67%.

We’re getting there, folks.

And Finally

The judging panel for World Rugby’s Women’s 15s Player of the Year has been announced.  And you couldn’t make it up.  Maggie Alphonsi (so far, so good), then it’s Fabien Galthié, George Gregan, Richie McCaw, Brian O’Driscoll, Agustín Pichot, John Smit and Clive Woodward.  Hmmm.  Call me cynical (and I’m not the only one), but how many of these esteemed names will have watched enough women’s rugby to reach an informed decision on this issue?  Well, probably one.

This is the governing body that not so long ago, last year in fact, produced its strategy for women and girls’ rugby, Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby 2017-25.  Obviously the strategy doesn’t extend to participation on judging panels.

Of course I’m not saying that men don’t watch women’s rugby, but these seven?  I don’t think so.  Could they not at least have a fifty-fifty male/female split?  Obviously not.  But good luck to the poor souls that have to provide the panel with its crib notes so that they can come to a Verdict.

Come on World Rugby, you can do better. Can’t you?

More news and views next week.

Women’s Sports Column 30 June – 6 July 2018

laura 1Welcome to this week’s column.  After last week’s unexpurgated rants, expect nothing but serenity and calm this time round (possibly).  Stories this week come from tennis, athletics, netball, badminton, winter sports, golf, cricket, rugby union and football.

Tennis

A Week is a long time in tennis – isn’t that what they say?  Well it certainly is for Caroline Wozniacki, who went from Eastbourne winner last week to out in the second round at Wimbledon this.

Eastbourne

Wozniacki came from a set down in her semi-final against Angelique Kerber to take it 2-6 7-6 6-4.  She was joined in the final by Aryna Sabalenka who defeated Agnieszka Radwanska, just coming back into form after a long injury lay-off, 6-3 1-6 6-3.

The final was altogether a more straightforward, if tight, affair.  Top seed Wozniacki took the title in straight sets 7-5 7-6.

Wimbledon

Into Wimbledon fortnight and almost immediately the seeds in the women’s draw began to fall.

The biggest shock of the first round was a really limp display from fourth seed Sloane Stephens, who was easily beaten by Donna Vekic 6-1 6-3.

The second biggest shock of the first round was the exit of the fifth seed, Elina Svitolina, who went down in three sets to Tatjana Maria 7-6 4-6 6-1.

Petra Kvitova, seeded eight, lost in three sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 4-6 6-0.

Sixteenth seed, Coco Vanderweghe, also went out in the first round, defeated in three sets by

Katerina Siniakova 6-7 6-3 8-6.   She had sustained an injury during the match and, although she completed it, later had to pull out of the doubles.

Twenty-first seed Anastasija Sevastova lost to Camila Giorgi 6-1 2-6 6-4, Maria Sharapova, seeded twenty-four, lost to Vitalia Diatchenko, Hsieh Su- Wei defeated thirtieth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 4-6 6-3  and Andrea Petkovic beat thirty-first seed Zhang Shuai 6-4 4-6 6-2.

Of the British players, Heather Watson went out in the first round to Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 7-5.  Katy Dunne lost to twelfth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-6.  Gabi Taylor went out to qualifier Eugenie Bouchard 6-0 4-6 6-3.  Third seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Naomi Broady 6-2 7-5.  Harriet Dart took a set off seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, but went down 7-6 2-6 6-1.

British number one Jo Konta beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva 7-5 7-6 in a closely fought encounter and there were fine wins for Katie Boulter against Veronica Cepede Royg 6-4 5-7 6-4 and Katie Swan, who defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2 6-2.

The second round was just as bloody.  Second seed Wozniacki lost in three to Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 1-6 7-5.Third seed Muguruza was beaten by Alison Van Uytvanck 5-7  6-2 6-1.

Thirty-second seed Radwanska lost to Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4.

All of the remaining British players lost, including twenty-second seed Konta who succumbed to Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-4.  Cue the haters on social media, including one particularly pernicious chap who repeatedly called Konta an “LTA funding leech”.  Ugh.

Boulter lost to Naomi Osaka (eighteenth seed), 6-3 6-4 and Swan to Mihaela Buzarnescu (twenty-ninth seed) 6-0 6-3.

And that’s just after the first four days!  Will there be any seeds left by the business end of the tournament next week?  Is it opening up for Serena (and have I just jinxed her by saying it?)  News and updates next Friday.

Cricket

England were triumphant in the T20 Tri-Series against New Zealand on Sunday.

In truth it was a bit of an anti-climax as New Zealand batting first could only muster 137 in their 20 overs:

New Zealand 137/9 (20 overs)
England 141/3 (17.1 overs)
England won by seven wickets with 17 balls to spare

Openers Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates began well, making 31 apiece, but after that it all fell apart as New Zealand limped to a below par 137.  Dani Hazell, Katherine Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone took two wickets each.

In response the England openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont made a stand of 81 before Beaumont was out for 35.  The visitors had no answer to Wyatt’s strength and style as she scored 50.

Sarah Taylor was bowled by young star Amelia Kerr, but Nat Sciver and Heather Knight took it on and saw England home, scoring 21 and 17 not out respectively.

England squad to play ODI series against New Zealand

Dani Hazell has been left out of the ODI squad.  In comes Alex Hartley, while young fast bowler Katie George keeps her place:

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

The three-match series starts tomorrow (7 July) at Headingley (11am start), with the second match at Derby on 10 July (1pm start) and the third at Leicester on 13 July (2pm start).  There are ICC Women’s Championship points at stake in all three games.

All matches are live on Sky Sports and radio coverage is on BBC TMS on 5 Live Sports Extra.

 ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

The qualifying tournament begins on Saturday 7 July in Rotterdam.

Group A comprises Bangladesh, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE
Group B comprises Ireland, Scotland, Thailand and Uganda

Ireland begin on 7 July against Thailand.  They then play Scotland on 8 July and Uganda on 10 July.

Scotland’s first match is against Uganda on 7 July and their last against Thailand on 10 July.

Athletics

There were some big performances by Team GB’s women at the British Athletics Championships last weekend.

On the track:

Laura Muir won the 800m in 2:01.22 seconds with Shelayna Oskan-Ckarke second (2:01.94) and Adelle Tracey in third (2:02.00).

Beth Dobbin won the 200m in 22.75, her second personal best time of the weekend.

Rosie Clarke won the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 9:45.83 which was good enough to get her to the European Championships.

Bethan Davies won the 5,000m walk.

Steph Twell won the 5,000m with Melissa Courtney in second and Eilish McColgan in third.

Meghan Beesley won the 400m hurdles in 55.73 with Kirsten McAslan second (56.48) and Jessica Turner third (57.10).

In the field:

Lorraine Ugen maintained her good form in the long jump, which she won with a jump of 7.05m with Jazmin Sawyers in second (6.86m).

Holly Bradshaw won the pole vault with a height of 4.60m, Sophie Cook in second (4.25m, PB) and Sally Peake in third (4.15m)

Morgan Lake won the high jump (1.97m), Katrina Johnson-Thompson second (1.90) and Nikki Manson third (1.87, PB).

Jade Lally won the discus with 56.61.

Laura Whittingham won the javelin with 55.55m.

Sophie Hitchon won the hammer with a championship record throw of 72.02.

Other Athletics News

British 400m runner, Christine Ohuruogu has retired at the age of 34.  Ohuruogu became World Champion in 2007 and won gold the following year at the Beijing Olympics.

She won silver at the London Olympics and a second world title in Moscow in 2013.

She was also a stalwart member of the 4 x 400m relay team, winning two Olympic bronzes (2008, 2016), one World Championship silver (2013) and no less than five bronze medals (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015).

Polish sprinter, Irena Szewinska has died at the age of 72.

She won three Olympic golds medals; in the 4x100m relay in Tokyo (1964), in the 200m in Mexico City (1968) and in the 400m eight years later in Montreal (1976).

She was the first woman to break 50 seconds for the 400m and set 10 career world records.

In 1998 she became a member of the International Olympic Committee and in 2005 became only the third woman to serve on the IAAF Council.

Golf

Women’s PGA Championship

Park Sung-hyun of South Korea won the PGA at Kemper Lakes near Chicago at the weekend.

Three golfers finished on -10, Park, Nasa Hataoka of Japan and Ryu So-yeon, also of South Korea and went into a play-off.

Park and Ryu both birdied the first play-off hole, while Hataoka was eliminated as she made only par.  Play was then suspended for 20 minutes due to the weather and on the resumption, Park birdied the second play-off hole, while Ryu could only make par.

Best British finishers were Charley Hull tied for sixth on -6, Bronte Law tied 18th on -2 and Jodie Ewart Shadoff tied 25th on -1.

Netball

Vitality Super League Grand Final

It will be a repeat of last year’s Grand Final at the Copper Box in London this Saturday as Loughborough Lightning take on Wasps Netball for the title.

Last season, if you remember, Lightning finished top and Wasps second.  They defeated their semi-final opponents and met in the final where Wasps came out on top 55-51.

So this season Lightning will be out for revenge.  Their finishing places were reversed this year and they both had good wins in their respective semi-finals, Loughborough defeating Manchester Thunder 59-50 and Wasps beating Team Bath 54-39.

Who will come out on top at the Copper Box?  If you can’t get there, full coverage is on Sky Sports and the match starts at 5pm.

England Roses

The Roses have moved up to second in the world rankings for the first time.

Since rankings began in 2008, Australia and New Zealand have filled the top two places, but England have overtaken the Silver Ferns in the latest table.

Top 10:

  1. Australia
  2. England
  3. New Zealand
  4. Jamaica
  5. South Africa
  6. Malawi
  7. Uganda
  8. Northern Ireland
  9. Scotland
  10. Trinidad & Tobago

Wales have dropped out of the top ten and stand at 11, while Ireland are 19th.

England qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup as hosts and are joined in automatic qualification by Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.

“Interesting” that in the 15 comments I saw when I looked at this story on the BBC Sports page, eight were from men with variations of “It’s not a proper sport”, “sexist if men can’t play”, “who cares?”, three were removed because they broke the house rules (makes you wonder what they actually said) and the grand total of four were actually positive comments about the Roses’ achievement.  So it seems that women shouldn’t be allowed to participate in “men’s sport”, i.e., football, but neither should we have what is perceived, incorrectly, to be a “women’s sport”, i.e., netball.  I think that leaves us with what is called Hobson’s choice……

Winter Sports

UK Sport has announced increased funding for curling running up to the Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing in 2022.  But four winter sports have had their funding cut:

  2014-2018 funding 2018-22 funding
Bobsleigh  £5m (men’s only) £0
Curling £5.66m £6.35m
Figure Skating £1.24m £0
Short-track speed skating £4.76m £0 (extra support for Elise Christie)
Skeleton £6.55m £7.2m
Ski & snowboard £5m £6.75m
Para-ski & Snowboard £2.77m £3.5m
Wheelchair curling £1.14m 0

This is broadly in line with UK Sport policy of only funding where the prospect of medals is a real one, a policy which you will know, if you are a regular reader of this column, is not something with which I necessarily agree.  Even stranger than that, UK Sport has made special provision for short-track speed skater Elise Christie, who they consider has made “significant and consistent world-level success.”  This has drawn criticism from some quarters, especially as Christie did not win a medal in Pyeongchang.

Rugby Union – Sevens

France won the first leg of the European Grand Prix Series in Marcoussis.  They defeated Russia in the final 17-12.

Ireland finished third, beating England by 39-7, their biggest ever win against England in either 7s or 15s.

Wales finished fifth and newly promoted Scotland had a great weekend, making it to the quarter-finals before they were beaten by Russia.

This weekend sees the second leg in Kazan.  News and results next week.

Badminton

Chris and Gabby Adcock reached the semi-finals of the Malaysia Open last weekend before they fell to eventual champions and fourth seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.  They lost 21-17, 18-21, 19-21.

Zheng and Huang then went on to defeat second seeds Wang Yiiu and Huang Dongping in the final 21-19, 21-18.

Football

The Welsh FA have announced that the Wales v England World Cup qualifier will be played at Newport’s ground, Rodney Parade.

The game, scheduled for 31 August, will kick-off at 7.45pm.

It is between England and Wales as to who finishes top – the runner-up will probably go into a play-off, while the group winner will qualify automatically.

Signings 

  • Arsenal have signed Swiss international midfielder Lia Walti and German international Tabea Kemme.
  • Former Lioness Rachel Yankey has joined the coaching staff at London Bees.
  • Reading have signed goalkeeper Rachael Laws from Sunderland and midfielder Remi Allen has signed a new contract with the Berkshire club.
  • Chelsea are about to sign Finnish international forward Adelina Engm
  • Liverpool have made two singing s from Bristol City; forward Yana Daniels and defender jasmine Matthews.
  • Everton have signed Sunderland midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg.
  • Bristol City Women have named their new manager; she is former Birmingham City assistant coach Tanya Oxtoby. She was previously assistant coach at Perth Glory Women and the Australia Under-20s.

Birmingham City Ladies have changed their name to Birmingham City Women.  In a statement the club called it “an important and progressive step.”

The FA has released its new logos for the rebranded women’s leagues.  Needless to say, as with pretty much all things FA-related, I’m not totally convinced.  Take a look for yourselves and let me know what you think: http://www.thefa.com/news/2018/jun/06/fa-womens-leagues-new-brand-identity-060618

And finally,

I gather there’s some men’s football going on this weekend?  I will actually miss it as I’ll be at the theatre in Stratford!  For those of you old enough to understand this reference, my husband and I will be re-enacting that Likely Lads episode until we can get home and watch the recording!  Good luck to England’s men against Sweden on Saturday.  Let’s hope it’s a better and much less tetchy and miserable match than the one against Colombia.

More news and views next week. 

Women’s Sports Column 8-13 July 2017

Lacrosse05Welcome to this week’s Women’s Sports Column. I’m back from hols and raring to go.  There’s a lot to catch up on and this is going to be a bumper edition with stories from cricket, lacrosse, football, rugby, sports politics, netball, hockey and tennis.  You can probably guess this week’s “And finally” – courtesy of Andy Murray, but it bears repeating.

So let’s crack on.

Lacrosse

For a couple of months now I’ve been trailing the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup – well someone had to.  To be honest, I’m not frightfully well up on it myself, but over the next couple of weeks I’m determined to get to grips with the ins and outs of this exciting, fast-moving sport.

The tournament is running from 12-22 July at Surrey Sport Park and if you check out the website, you can still pick up tickets for some matches.

England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are all taking part.

A brief history:

Originally a Native American sport, it continues to draw big crowds in the United States.  This World Cup is the tenth, with America winning seven so far and being runners-up in the other two, won by Australia.  Over here it’s very much a minority sport, but growing.

There are 25 (!) nations taking part, with Wales being the second smallest after Latvia.  Wales also boasts the game’s most capped player – Ros Lloyd Rout – who currently has 106 appearances for her country.

All of the home teams are ranked highly; England are ranked fourth in the world and Wales fifth, with Scotland just behind in sixth.

The format of the tournament is somewhat complicated.  The top six ranked teams; USA, Canada, Australia, England, Wales and Scotland qualify by right to the knockout stages, although they all still play each other in Pool A.  There are four other pools and just two teams from these pools will qualify along with Pool A.

Pool B
Italy
Hong Kong
Haudenosaunee
Korea
Switzerland

Pool C
Israel
Netherlands
Czech Republic
China
Belgium

Pool D
Japan
Germany
Latvia
Spain
Mexico

Pool E
New Zealand
Ireland
Sweden
Colombia

Wow – that’s some worldwide spread!

It all kicked off on Wednesday with an exciting home nations derby.

England 12-6 Wales

England took the lead in the third minute and between then and 26th it was neck and neck as first one team scored, then the other.  But in a telling period between the 28th and 47th England scored four without reply.  Wales came back with one goal but England scored another three without Wales being able to score again.  England’s number 11, Jennifer Simpson must have thought her only role was to provide the pass for the goalscorers as she achieved three assists, but then she got a goal of her own in the 57th minute, England’s 11th and penultimate score.

There, I’ve done my best!

Coverage will undoubtedly be sparse, but it’s good to see that the BBC will be covering the tournament on the BBC website from the quarter-finals onwards.  And, of course, I’ll do what I can to keep you updated via this blog!

Tennis

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s Wimbledon fortnight.  And what a tournament it’s been!  There have been some truly stunning women’s (and men’s) matches, not least of which was the quarter-final between Jo Konta and Simona Halep.

Anyway, the women’s singles final is on Saturday.  It was a shame that with so many good matches up to that point, the semi-finals were a bit of a disappointment and over all too quickly.

Women’s Singles

Garbine Muguruza (14) beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1 6-1
Venus Williams (10) defeated Johanna Konta (6) 6-4 6-2

Women’s Doubles

The semi-final line-up is:

A Grönefeld/K Peschke (12) v E Makarova/E Vesnina (2)
M Niculescu/H Chan (9) v R Voracova/M Ninomiya

Mixed Doubles

The semi-final line-up is:

H Kontinen/H Watson v B Soares/E Vesnina (2)
M Hingis/J Murray (1) v M Demoliner/M Martinez Sanchez

Wheelchair Singles

Both British players Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker lost in the quarter-finals.  Whiley succumbed to Diede De Groot of the Netherlands 6-2 7-6.  Shuker lost to second seed Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-3 6-1.

De Groot plays compatriot Aniek Van Koot in the first semi-final, while Kamiji faces Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.

Football

On the Pitch

Scotland 1-0 Republic of Ireland

Scotland won their final Euros warm-up game against the Republic of Ireland 1-0.  Substitute Christie Murray headed home in the 85th minute to see Anna Signeul’s side head off to the Netherlands with a much needed win.

Scotland’s first game at the Euros, in case you didn’t already know, is against England in Utrecht on 19 July.

In fact, of course, it will all be underway by the time I get to write my column next week, so I’d just like to say good luck to the Lionesses and to Scotland.

Off the Pitch

Lewes FC

Good news this week as semi-professional club Lewes FC announced that they will be paying their men’s and women’s first teams the same salaries.

Lewes women play in the third tier, the Premier League Southern Division, and the men in the Isthmian League Division One South, their eighth tier.

Both teams will have the same budget, level of coaching staff and facilities.

It is all part of the club’s “Equality FC” campaign.

Director Jacquie Agnew said: “We hope to spark a change that will help put an end to the excuses for why such a deep pay disparity has persisted.”

Toni Duggan

News also came this week that England striker Toni Duggan has signed for the new Barcelona women’s team.  She joins them from Manchester City on a two-year contract.

The BBC chose to announce that Duggan is the first English player to sign for Barcelona since Gary Lineker.  And didn’t that get the Neanderthal footie-lovers Y-fronts in a tangle? Outraged by the audacity of mentioning Lineker and Duggan in the same breath they all went completely off their heads to point out that Lineker signed for the men’s team, not the women’s and that the two were completely different.  Tee hee.  I can’t help thinking the BBC was having a bit of a laugh at their expense – and boy did they rise to it!

Yeovil Town Ladies FC

Yeovil announced yesterday that their Head Coach Michelle Yeowell has left the club.  She had been a player and coach for the club for more than ten years.

Her successor has not yet been named.

Rugby Union

Some shock news this week came from the RFU when it announced that England’s full-time contracts will end after the World Cup in August.

After the much-vaunted announcement of contracts in July 2016, this volte-face is not only disappointing but embarrassing.

The RFU, in its wisdom, has decided to concentrate on developing the sevens.

Evidently professional contracts will only go to sevens players next year.  England have already qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens and next year there is the Commonwealth Games and the World Series.

The RFU is still committed to investing in the women’s fifteen-a-side game with the introduction of next season’s new league competition, but there are going to be some pretty unhappy women who return from the World Cup, regardless of the result, to find themselves without a contract.

Kazan Sevens

England produced their best performance for a while last weekend to finish second at the last Grand Prix Series tournament in Kazan, thus securing qualification to next year’s Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco.  England were beaten by Russia 21-0 in the final, having topped their pool with wins over Ireland, Poland and Sweden.

Wales finished second in their pool to eventual winners Russia and finished fifth altogether.  Their high finish ensured their qualification for next year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.  In the pool stage they beat Italy and the Netherlands but lost to Russia.  They then lost to England 21-7 in the play-offs but won the repechage by beating Belgium and Poland to take fifth.

Russia were a class above over the weekend, and in fact, over the two legs.  They scored 34 tries in each leg.

The European representatives at the 7s RWC in San Francisco will be Russia, Spain, France, England and Ireland.

Cricket

Apart from reading a tweet today by a real gent which said it’s an “absolute disgrace” that England’s women scored 373/5 against South Africa and that “cricket is just not a women’s game.  Stick to hockey or netball”, the Women’s World Cup has generally engendered a positive reaction.

One brilliant story comes out of India where apparently a young girl went into a sports shop and asked for an Indian cricket shirt.   When asked if she wanted a name printed on it, she said yes.  Was it Kohli?  Dhoni?  Nope, it was Smriti Mandhana.  The shop said it was the first time they had ever been asked to put the name of one of the women’s team on a shirt!  Progress.

We’re nearly at the knockout stage of the World Cup.  It’s a fight between New Zealand and India for the last place in the quarter-finals.

Here’s what’s happened in the last week:

Match 17

All too easy for New Zealand

New Zealand v Pakistan
Taunton
Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat

Pakistan 144 all out (46.5 overs)
New Zealand 147/2 (15 overs)
New Zealand won by 8 wickets (210 balls remaining)

Pakistan’s openers needed to make a considerable opening stand to post any kind of total against New Zealand.  They had only made 35 before Zafar was out and although captain Sana Mir chipped in with a bright half-century, the other wickets fell cheaply and 144 was really never going to be enough.

Hannah Rowe took 3/22 off nine overs with the rest of the bowlers all contributing.

In response Rachel Priest was dismissed for just 8, but 93 from Sophie Devine and 38 not out from Amy Satterthwaite saw them comfortably home.

Match 18

Another Van Niekerk masterclass does for India’s top batters

India v South Africa
Leicester
India won the toss and put South Africa in

South Africa 273/9 (50 overs
India 158 all out (46 overs)
South Africa won by 115 runs

Wolvaardt may have been dismissed for just one, but some power batting from Lizelle Lee soon put this tie in South Africa’s favour.  Van Niekerk also scored 57 and was backed up well by the rest of the top order.

By contrast India struggled to get the ball off the square.  Deepti Sharma scored 60 and Jhulan Goswami 43, but there were few other contributors as Dane Van Niekerk took 4/22 off her 10 overs and India ended way short.

Match 19

England edge the big one – but it’s mighty close

England v Australia
Bristol
England won the toss and elected to bat

England 259/8 (50 overs)
Australia 256/8 (50 overs)
England won by 3 runs

Lauren Winfield is yet to make a score, but fellow opener Tammy Beaumont is looking to have got her mojo back with a vengeance.  She scored top-scored with 49, Katherine Brunt chipped in with 45 not out and there were good starts for everyone else except the skipper, Heather Knight, who was out for just one.  Elyse Villani took 3/42 off 5 overs as England chased the runs towards the end.

It was on the cusp of “just enough” and when Australia had got to 56 without losing a wicket all seemed ominous.  In fact everyone made runs but the rate was too slow.  Ellyse Perry starred with 70 with Lanning scoring 40.  It was down to Jenny Gunn to bowl the last over, with 16 needed.  Five were scored off the first three, then Gardner was out, caught by Brunt.  The fifth ball of the over brought another four and then Australia needed six off the last ball, but Jonassen could only grab two and England had won by three runs.

An excellent, nail-biting game and a great advert for women’s cricket with a crowd of over 4,000 at Bristol cheering both sides on.

Match 20

West Indies chalk up their first win

Sri Lanka v West Indies
Derby
Sri Lanka won the toss and put the West Indies in.

West Indies 229/9 (50 overs)
Sri Lanka 182 all out (48 overs)
West Indies won by 47 runs

When were the West Indies going to turn up?  This game was a bit more encouraging for the World T20 champions.  They made a healthy 229 with Merissa Aguilleira top-scoring on 49.

In reply Sri Lanka needed their star, Atapattu to fire, but when she was out on 26 the writing was on the wall.  Anisa Mohammed was best bowler for the Windies taking 3/39 off her 10 overs and was Player of the Match.

Match 21

West Indies win again as rain hits Leicester

Pakistan v West Indies
Leicester
Pakistan won the toss and put the West Indies in

West Indies 285/4 (50 overs)
Pakistan 117/3 (24 overs)
West Indies won by 19 runs via D/L method

West Indies batted well for probably the first time in the tournament.  Their two biggest stars, Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin both fired with 90 and 104 respectively.  And when they fire the whole team looks a different prospect.

We were lucky to get as much cricket as we did with the sides playing through some quite heavy rain.  With a delay to the Pakistan reply the total was revised to 245 in 38 overs.  Pakistan had reached 117 before the heavens opened again and the match was abandoned.

Match 22

South Africa ease past Sri Lanka

South Africa v Sri Lanka
Taunton
Sri Lanka won the toss and batted

Sri Lanka 101 all out (40.3 0vers)
South Africa 104/2 (23.1 overs)
South Africa won by 8 wickets

It was an early finish at Taunton as South Africa put Sri Lanka to the sword.  Van Niekerk struck again with 4/24 off 8 overs while Ismail took 3/14 off 7.3.

South Africa polished off their target with ease.  The usually reliable Lee fell for a duck but Wolvaardt was 48 not out and du Preez 38 not out as they knocked off 104 in the 24th over.

Match 23

Indian total never a problem for Australia at Bristol

Australia v India
Bristol
Australia won the toss and put India in

India 226/7 (50 overs)
Australia 227/2 (45.1 overs)
Australia won by 8 wickets

A fine century by opener Punam Raut was the highlight for India and without her 106 India would have faltered badly.  She was ably supported by captain Mithali Raj with 69.  Raj became the highest scorer in women’s ODIs in this match.  She overtook Charlotte Edwards’ 5992, reaching 6028 in 16 fewer innings than Edwards and with an average of 51.52.  So two good knocks, but unlikely to be enough to put Australia in any trouble.

And indeed it wasn’t. The great pairing of Lanning and Perry took it home with 76 not out and 60 not out respectively.

Match 24

Sciver does it again as England too strong for New Zealand

England v New Zealand
Derby
England won the toss and batted

England 284/9 (50 overs)
New Zealand 209 all out (46.4)
England won by 75 runs

Nat Sciver’s second century of the tournament was the highlight for England.  Winfield went cheaply again with just 11 but Beaumont continued her good form with a fine 93.  Without Sciver’s 129 England would have been in trouble with Fran Wilson (10) the only other player to get into double figures.

Young leg spinner Amelia Kerr took 4/51 off her 10 overs.

New Zealand started steadily but an injury incurred by Sophie Devine in the field clearly hampered her in batting.  Suzie Bates top-scored for New Zealand with 44, but a regular clattering of wickets meant they quickly fell behind the required rate.  Alex Hartley took 3/44 off 9.4 overs.

It was a good team performance by England.

Sports Politics

The Saudi Education Ministry has announced that girls attending public schools will be given access to physical education.  The changes will be made “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations.”

Four years ago changes were made to allow girls in private schools to take part in sport.

It’s a big move, but we’ll have to see how things progress.

Netball

I’m ashamed to say I had missed the start of the Netball World Youth Cup, but here’s a recap of what is happening and what has occurred so far.

It’s happening in Gaborone, Botswana, the first time it has taken place in Africa.  Twenty teams have qualified and the format is quite complicated.  We begin with four pools of five and after the pool games we go into the knockout stages.  The final is on 16 July.

England

In their first game, on Saturday 8 July, they beat Wales 69-23.  On Sunday they played Grenada, winning 98-25.  Their third pool game was against Trinidad & Tobago on Monday.  The score was 75-27 to England and finally they played Fiji on Wednesday with England coming out on top 63-29.

Wales

Wales lost to England in their first match, and then to Fiji on Sunday 35-48.  On Monday they defeated Grenada 72-30 and their fourth match was a tight loss to Trinidad and Tobago 32-36.

Scotland

The Scots defeated Sri Lanka in their first match on Saturday 69-48.  On Monday they lost to New Zealand 78-26.  On Tuesday they defeated Northern Ireland 55-36 and their last pool game on Wednesday was a two-point victory over Samoa 46-44.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is the British Isles’ lowest ranked team and found it difficult.  They lost all of their pool matches: 22-89 to New Zealand, 44-56 to Sri Lanka, 26-65 to Samoa and 36-55 to Scotland.

England and Scotland qualified for the 1st-8th place quarter-final, which took place on Thursday 13 July.  England defeated Jamaica 55-38, while Scotland drew the short straw, playing Australia.  Australia won the game 95-22.

Find out who came where and who won what next week!

Hockey

Hockey World League semi-final – Johannesburg

After a comfortable 3-0 win over Poland on Monday 10 July, England suffered a shock defeat against Japan on Wednesday.  Mami Karino’s goal in the third minute was enough to defeat the Olympic champions.  They play Germany on 14 July and Ireland two days later.  They currently lie fourth in the pool.

Ireland have already qualified for the last eight with two draws against Japan and Germany and a win over Poland.

And finally

Andy Murray’s feminist credentials struck again this week.  Lots of people (men) didn’t like it, especially when the BBC kept tweeting it, but hey ho.  In the press conference after his loss to American Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-final on Wednesday, a journalist said Querrey was “the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009”.  “Male player”, replied Andy immediately.

Several people were quick to point out that it was “obvious” that they were talking about men’s tennis.  But I hate to tell you folks, that’s how casual sexism works.  Murray was calling out the assumption that men’s tennis is the default and we only qualify it when we talk about women’s tennis (or any other sport for that matter).  Good stuff from Murray.

Women’s Sports Column 10-16 June 2017

netball2Welcome to this week’s column.  I got the feeling when I was preparing this that it would be a big one – so much news from so many different sports.  So forgive me if I’m brief with each piece – just trying to get as much in as possible.

So here we go.  Stories this week come from athletics, hockey, diving, netball, football, rugby union, cycling, tennis, triathlon and cricket.  It’s also Women’s Sport Week next week, so this makes my “and finally”, with my usual combination of enthusiasm and cynicism.

Netball

Super League Final Four

I made no secret of it as I nailed my colours firmly to the Loughborough Lightning mast at the beginning of the season.  But I could not help but have that sinking feeling at the weekend when both Lightning and Wasps won well to go into the Final Four final.  And so it was borne out by the final result.  Loughborough will have the satisfaction of winning the league (by a whopping nine points), but they will be angry that the only team they couldn’t beat during the whole season was Wasps – twice.

Saturday 10 June

Semi-Finals

Loughborough Lightning 66-45 Team Bath

Wasps Netball 63-48 Manchester Thunder

Sunday 11 June

Third place play-off 

Manchester Thunder 56-48 Team Bath

Final

Loughborough Lightning 51-55 Wasps Netball

So congratulations to Wasps.  It’s been a great Super League season.

Tennis

French Open

Twenty-year old Jelena Ostapenko became French Open champion on Saturday.  She defeated third seed and tournament favourite Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3.

The unseeded Ostapenko was one set and 3-0 down before she came roaring back and in doing so became the first unseeded woman to win at Roland Garros since 1983. She also became Latvia’s first Grand Slam champion.

It was an amazing performance and hopefully the world number 47 will have a great future.

Surbiton Trophy

Magdalena Rybarikova won the Surbiton trophy, beating Britain’s number two Heather Watson in in the final in straight sets, 6-4 7-5.

Nottingham Open

Laura Robson exited the Nottingham Open in the first round.  She went out to American Julia Boserup 6-4 6-3.

Heather Watson also lost in the first round, going out to fourth seed Alison Riske of the USA 6-2 6-3.

Meanwhile Britain’s number one, Johanna Konta is through to the quarter-final.  Her first round opponent, fellow Briton Tara Moore, retired with a foot injury.  At the time Konta was up 6-2 3-0.  It was Konta’s 300th career singles win.

She played Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium in round two, winning comfortably 6-4 6-1.

Konta plays Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in the last eight.

Aegon Trophy, Manchester

Britain’s number three, Naomi Broady is through to the quarter-finals with a second round win over American Maria Sanchez 7-6 7-6.

She will play top seed Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei in the last eight.

Injuries

Simona Halep

The French Open runner-up has pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next week with an ankle injury.

This means that wildcards will now be given to Naomi Broady and Heather Watson and there will, therefore, be three Britons, including British number one Johanna Konta, in the draw.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova has pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton due to a thigh injury.  She had been awarded a wildcard to compete in Birmingham.

She is not expected to return until the end of July.

Cycling

The Women’s Tour

Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma claimed the overall Women’s Tour at the weekend, after the final stage in London.

The Stage Five results were:

  1. Jolien D’Hoore – 1hr 28mins 23secs
  2. Hannah Barnes – same time
  3. Christine Majerus – same time
  4. Roxane Fournier – same time
  5. Katie Archibald – same time

Overall standings:

  1. Katarzyna Niewiadoma – 16hrs 34mins 53secs
  2. Christine Majerus – +1min 18secs
  3. Hannah Barnes – +1min 30sec

Other British finishers were Alice Barnes in 6th, Dani King in 9th, Katie Archibald in 18th and defending champion Lizzie Deignan who finished in 42nd place.

Hockey

England had a disappointing international weekend at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

10 June

England 1-5 Argentina

Argentina took the lead through an Agustina Habif penalty corner on 17 minutes.  Lily Owsley almost equalised a couple of minutes later but her shot went wide.

On 22 minutes England were level from Surbiton’s Hannah Martin’s well worked penalty corner.

The teams went in all square and with all to play for in the second-half.

But it was all downhill for England as two penalty corners, from Martina Cavallero on 44 and Magdalena Fernandez on 48 took Argentina well in front.

And English misery was complete when Delfina Merino on 56 and Eugenia Trinchinetti on 60 scored field goals to make it 5-1.

It was a somewhat experimental England side with several new faces but it was also an excellent performance from the Argentinians.

11 June

England 2- 2 Netherlands

Netherlands won 4-3 on penalties

As always seems to be the way between these two, this was a game to savour as England came from 2-0 down to force the game into a penalty shootout.

The Dutch took the lead on just three minutes with a goal from Laura Nunnink after a pinpoint Frederique Matla cross.

They doubled their lead on 15 minutes after some fine counter-attacking hockey – the shot from  Laurien Leurink to powerful for Maddie Hinch to keep out.

But England were not out of it.  Alex Danson scored on 42 minutes and and then Sophie Bray pulled them level on 52 from a great cross by Susannah Townsend.

The shootout went to sudden death.  Hollie Webb thought she had scored the winning goal, but it was disallowed for having touched her foot.

Matla put the next Dutch penalty away, Nicola White’s was saved and the Netherlands had won.

 EuroHockey Club Cup (EHCC)

With German teams finishing as runners-up in the top division of the women’s EHCC and winning the second division (the Trophy), they will have two places for next year’s event and England will only have one.

Surbiton Ladies will be the England’s representatives in 2018.

Rugby Union

Red Roses on Tour

England 53-10 Australia

England started their International Women’s Rugby Series with a convincing win over Australia at Porirua Park, New Zealand.

Although the Wallaroos took the lead in the third minute when Ashleigh Hewson went over for a try, it was pretty much all Red Roses action from then on.

They scored nine tries in all with Sarah McKenna bagging a hat-trick and Kay Wilson a brace.  The other tries came from Izzy Noel-Smith, Abbie Scott, Vicky Fleetwood and Harriet Millar-Mills.  Emily Scott put over four conversions.

Canada 20-27 England

The Red Roses continued their fine form against Canada in Christchurch.  They scored four tries; two from Lydia Thompson and one each for Abbie Scott and Kay Wilson.  Emily Scarratt kicked seven points.

Canada’s tries came from Carolyn McEwen and Karen Paquin, while Magali Harvey kicked two penalties and two conversions.

New Zealand are also in fine form.  They defeated Canada in their first match, 28-16 and Australia in their second, 44-17.

The two unbeaten sides, the Black Ferns and the Red Roses meet on Saturday at the Rotorua International Stadium in a winner-takes-all shoot-out.

Japan

Just as Japan were the surprise package at the men’s World Cup in 2015 (who can forget their incredible win over South Africa?), it seems the Japanese women should not be underestimated in this year’s tournament in Ireland.

They have just undertaken a short tour of Ireland and Wales and although they lost narrowly twice to an Ireland XV, they defeated Wales 52-10 this week.

They have been drawn in Pool C with Australia, France and Ireland.  And all should ensure they don’t take the points for granted when playing the Asian Champions.

Sevens

England’s sevens squad, meanwhile takes part in the Malemort Sevens at the weekend.  The squad is Natasha Brennan, Katie Mason, Alice Richardson-Watmore, Millie Wood, Olivia Jones, Deborah Fleming, Heather Fisher, Kelly Smith, Lotte Clapp, Jo Richardson-Watmore, Holly Aitchison and Chantelle Miell.

Malemort is the first leg of Rugby Europe Women’s Grand Prix Series.

Pool A: Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain

Pool B: France, Belgium, Wales, Sweden

Pool C: England, Ireland, Italy, Portugal

England’s pool games will be as follows (all times BST):

Saturday 17 June
v Portugal, 9.44am
v Italy, 12.29pm
v Ireland, 3.14pm

It’s an important two-part series for England as it will be their last chance to quality for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July 2018.  Qualification through the HSBC Rugby Women’s Sevens Series is unlikely as England are currently eighth after five of the six rounds.

Football

On the Pitch

England’s Euros warm-up

Switzerland 0-4 England

England put in another impressive display in Biel to win comfortably against Switzerland this week.

After a first half-hour’s stalemate Jordan Nobbs broke the deadlock with a fine 20-yard curler.

Ten minutes later they were two-up when Fran Kirby went round the Swiss Goalkeeper, Gaelle Thalmann to score from close range.

In the second-half Jodie Taylor scored twice and England could have had more.

Scotland’s Euros warm-ups

Mixed fortunes for Anna Signeul’s side as they prepare for the Euros next month.

Scotland 2-0 Romania

Lisa Evans started the scoring for the home side after just two minutes, when she headed in from a Fiona Brown cross.  They went in 1-0 up and then doubled their lead just after half-time when Jane Ross headed in another cross from Brown to seal the win.

It was a good, positive, attacking performance from the Scots.

Sweden 1-0 Scotland

Scotland’s second game was against altogether tougher opponents.

Although Sweden dominated the game they were unable to break through the Scottish defence until the 84th minute, when Caroline Seger headed home after almost constant Sweden pressure.

Off the Pitch

News broke this week that Dame Heather Rabbatts has announced she is to step down from her role as an FA non-executive director and board member.

In her resignation letter she cited her frustration “at the lack of progress for BAME coaches.”

The FA will now have to recruit three, not two women to its board in time for the beginning of the 2018/19 season, in order to adhere to the new Code for Sports Governance.

She made such a significant contribution in what must have been, at the very least, an unhelpful atmosphere.  She will be missed and I hope those women that come after her can harness some of her confidence and strength and will be able to make their own telling contributions.

Signings

Manchester City have made their first signing of the summer.  They have signed defender Mie Jans from Brondby for next season.

City fans will also be relieved that captain Steph Houghton has signed a new contract.  The club’s website stated:

“I’ve only ever seen my future at the club.

“This will be my fourth season and I’ve loved every single minute of it. I had no intention of going anywhere else and this is my home now.”

The length of the contract has not been disclosed.

Bristol City Women have also been dabbling in the transfer market this week.  They have signed Belgian striker Yana Daniels from Anderlecht.

WSL Structure

Everton will be the team to replace Notts County in WSL next season.

Only they and Doncaster Rovers Belles applied.  Everton finished top of the WSL2 Spring Series.

The Belles have seven days to appeal the decision.

Cricket

England continued their World Cup warm-up with a match against India this week.

They beat India by 140 runs in Loughborough.  Returning captain Heather Knight took three wickets, as did left-arm spinner Alex Hartley.  Nat Sciver continued her fine form with 69.  Lauren Winfield also put in a good knock of 50.

England 243 all out

India 103 all out

Next warm-up will be against Sri Lanka on 19 June in Chesterfield.

Triathlon

Leeds Triathlon (World Triathlon Series)

The winner of the Leeds event was Flora Duffy of Bermuda in a time of one hour 57 minutes, 02 seconds.  Second was Taylor Spivey of the USA in one hour 58 minutes, 32 seconds and in third was Alice Betto of Italy in one hour 59 minutes, 36 seconds.

First Briton home was Jessica Learmonth, who finished sixth in a time of two hours, one minute and 06 seconds.

Non Stanford finished in 11th.

Speaking of whom, Stanford has had to withdraw from the European Championships in Kitzbuhel, Switzerland at the weekend, due to illness.  No further details have been given, but she is believed to have been feeling ill since competing in Yokohama in May.

Diving

Britain’s Lois Toulson won 10m platform gold at the European Championships in Kiev this week.

She scored 330.70, with Russians Anna Chuinyshena (326.90) and Iuliia Timoshinina (313.3) capturing silver and bronze.

The World Championships take place from 14 July in Budapest.

Athletics

There was sad news this week as it was revealed that double Paralympic champion Kadeena Cox has had two of her gold medals stolen.

She had left the medals, from the 2015 IPC World Championships T37 100m and T35-38 4 x 100m relay, in her car outside her house in Prestwich.

Let’s hope they are returned.

And finally,

It’s that time again!  It’s Women’s Sport Week next week.  And those of you who have been with me for some time will know of my mixed feelings about this.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for shouting about women’s sport (as well you know), but I still think every week should be “Women’s Sport Week”.

But until this is the case, and let’s face it this is a long, long way away, let’s celebrate.  I want you all to go out and talk about women’s sport next week.  Tweet about it, Facebook it.  Do all those lovely social media things.  But also watch it and read about it.  I know you’ll have to make a bit of an effort to find it (hence this column), but I promise you it will be worth it.

And of course, if you’re a female reader of this column, you can always get out and play something!  Book a court, go for a run, go bowling, walk up a hill, have a kickabout in the park – then shout about it!

I’d love to hear what you’re doing to celebrate Women’s Sport Week.  Let me know and I’ll Tweet the best and check out www.womeninsport.org for more ideas and information.

 

 

 

Women’s Sports Column 28 January – 3 February 2017

rugby ballWelcome to this week’s column.  Over the next few weeks my posting may be sporadic due to a family bereavement – totally unprofessional to mention, but I’ll make every effort I can to keep the column going.  There’s so much going on that it will give me purpose and encouragement to carry on writing.

So, on that note, let’s crack on.  News this week comes from tennis, netball, winter sports, football, cricket, This Girl Can, rugby, Be a Game Changer and the biggest news from Australia for a while – the introduction of the Women’s Aussie Rules Football league.

Be a Game Changer Awards 2017

The public nomination period for the Women’s Sports Trust “Be a Game Changer” Awards 2017 is open from 1-15 February.  Check out the Women’s Sports Trust website for details.

The categories for nomination are:

Sporting Role Model (individual), Sporting Role Model (team), Ambassador of Women’s Sport, Sponsor Partnership of the Year, National Governing Body of the Year, Inspiring Initiative (National), Inspiring Initiative (Local/Grassroots), Photographer/Filmmaker of the Year, Imagery of the Year, Media Initiative of the Year, Media Individual of the Year, Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sport.

If there’s someone you think should be recognised in any of these categories, don’t wait as the nomination period is a short one.

Netball

Quad Series

The Quad Series is currently underway.  This is the story so far:

Saturday, 28 January, Durban

Australian Diamonds 57-50 New Zealand Silver Ferns,

South Africa Proteas 55-60 England Roses (After extra time)

Tuesday, 31 January, Durban

South Africa Proteas 46-62 Australian Diamonds

Thursday, 2 February, Echo Arena, Liverpool

England Roses 37-61New Zealand Silver Ferns

Sunday, 5 February, SSE Arena Wembley, London

England Roses v Australian Diamonds (live on BBC Two from 1pm)

New Zealand Silver Ferns v South Africa Proteas

Rugby Union

Six Nations

Don’t forget it’s the start of the Six Nations this weekend.

It all kicks off tonight (Friday) with Scotland v Ireland at the Broadway Stadium.  Kick-off is 6.35.pm.  It will be covered in Ireland by RTE.

Ireland will be favourites to win even though they will be without regular captain Niamh Briggs.

Teams:

Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Murrayfield Wanderers), Megan Gaffney (Edinburgh University), Lisa Thomson (Edinburgh University), Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers, capt), Rhona Lloyd (Edinburgh University), Helen Nelson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers/Edinburgh University); Tracey Balmer (Worcester), Rachel Malcolm (Lichfield), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Deborah McCormack (Aylesford Bulls), Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill).

Replacements: Lucy Park (Murrayfield Wanderers), Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), Katie Dougan (Edinburgh University), Sarah Bonar (Lichfield), Jemma Forsyth (Hillhead Jordanhill), Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield), Lauren Harris (Melrose), Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers).

 Ireland: M Coyne (Connacht); N Kavanagh (Munster), J Murphy (Leinster), S Naoupa (Aylesford Bulls), A Miller (Connacht); N Stapleton (Leinster), A Hughes (Leinster); L Peat (Leinster), L Lyons (Munster), A Egan (Belvedere); O Fitzsimons (Leinster), ML Reilly (Leinster); C Griffin (Munster), C Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), P Fitzpatrick (Leinster) capt.

Replacements: J Finlay (Leinster), I Van Staden (Ulster), C O’Connor (Connacht), E Anthony (Munster), N Fryday (Connacht), M Healy (Connacht), C McLaughlin (Ulster), E Considine (Munster)

Second to kick off will be Italy v Wales in Acona at 2pm on Saturday 4 February.

Wales: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets), Elen Evans (Scarlets), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Adi Taviner (Ospreys), Elinor Snowshill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys), Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (c) (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Newport Gwent Dragons), Mel lay (Ospreys), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys)

Replacements: Lowri Harries (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gwenllian Pyrs (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gemma Rowland (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jessica Kavanagh-Williams (Scarlets)

England v France takes place on Saturday at Twickenham at 7.35pm (after the men’s game).   This is already being billed as the Six Nations decider.

The game will be live on Sky Sports and on the radio on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.  There will also be highlights on BBC TV.

DMP Sharks second row, Tamara Taylor will receive her 99th England cap.

England:  Danielle Waterman (Bristol), Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), Amber Reed (Bristol), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Laura Keates (Worcester Valkyries), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol)

If you can’t find TV or radio coverage, try the Six Nations You Tube channel.

Sevens

This Friday and Saturday sees the next round of the World Seven Series, this time in Sydney.

England finished third in Pool C on Friday as they beat Spain but lost to both Russia and the USA.  They failed to make the Cup quarter finals and now face Papua New Guinea in the Challenge Trophy semi-final.

England Women squad, Sydney

  1. Natasha Brennan, 2. Abbie Brown (C), 3. Alice Richardson-Watmore, 4. Millie Wood, 5. Lauren Cattell, 6. Rachael Woosey, 7. Heather Fisher, 8. Kelly Smith, 9. Fran Matthews, 10. Jo Richardson-Watmore, 11. Katie Mason, 12. Chantelle Miell

Pool C results

Friday 3 February

England 19-10 Spain

England 14- 22 USA

Russia 31-5 England

New Zealand, Australia and Russia finished unbeaten in their respective pools on day one.

Ireland beat Fiji and Brazil and lost to Australia in Pool B and to finish second.  They will face USA in their Cup quarter-final.

The full Cup quarter-final line-up is as follows:

New Zealand v France

Ireland v USA

Australia v Fiji

Russia v Canada

Australian Rules Football

Possibly the biggest thing to hit women’s sport in Australia in years.  The AFL has, at last, launched a women’s league and it is set to be huge.

The first game took place today and a crowd of 24,500 (with reportedly 1,000 locked outside) saw Carlton beat Collingwood 46-11.

No-one can say it hasn’t been a long time coming.  I’d love to go through the history here (perhaps a new column for WiSP Sports?), but I haven’t got time or space.  For a quick introduction try this piece by Russell Jackson in The Guardian.

For weeks on end now my social media timeline has been buzzing with the league’s imminent arrival.  Cricket Australia and other sports governing bodies must be quaking in their boots.

It’s not my game, I admit it now, but the enthusiasm is infectious and if I can find a reliable source for news, coverage and information I’ll certainly feature it in the future.

One thing’s for certain – the AFLW means business.

Football

Indian League

As I mentioned last week, the new Indian Women’s league is now go.  I’m happy to give the results so far:

28 January

Jeppiaar Institute FC 1-7 Eastern Sporting Union FC

Rising Student FC 6-1 Aizawl FC

29 January

FC Pune City 0-0 Alakhpura FC

30 January

Eastern Sporting Union FC 1-2 Rising Student FC

31 January

FC Pune City 1-0 Jeppiaar Institute FC

Alakhpura FC 6-2 Aizawl FC

2 February

Eastern Sporting Union FC 3-1 FC Pune City

Rising Student FC 0-1 Alakhpura FC

3 February

Aizawl FC 2-3 Jeppiaar Institute FC

Transfers

The threat of the demise of Notts County Ladies seems to have receded and they have started making signings again.  This week they signed striker Kirsty Linnett from Birmingham City.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have strengthened their forward line by signing England Under-23 striker, Beth Mead, from Sunderland.  This may have something to do with the news a few week ago that Sunderland are reverting to part-time status, while Arsenal could offer Mead a full-time contract.

I’m hoping this doesn’t signal an exodus from Sunderland, especially as they club went to such pains to reassure us all that their part-time decision was agreed by all – players and staff alike.

However, this week also saw midfielder Brooke Chaplen out of the door as she signed for Reading on an 18-months contract.

This Girl Can

Sport England launched the second phase of its This Girl Can campaign this week.

Since its inception in 2015, 1.6 million women and girls aged 14-40 have taken up or restarted sport.

The next four-week campaign will tackle fear of judgement, preventing women giving up sport and widening the approach to women in their 50s and 60s.

Look out for the adverts on social media, TV and the new fantastic billboards and posters at bus-stops.

Cricket

India

It is well known that the governing body of Indian Cricket, the BCCI, is undergoing a period of change and reform.   A new panel of administrators has been appointed to run the body.  And surprisingly, there is just one ex-player in the panel of four – and that ex-player is a woman.  Diana Edulji played for the Indian women’s team from 1976 to 1993.  She took 63 test wickets in 20 matches and 46 ODI wickets in 34 matches during this time.

Since her retirement she has been involved in sports administration, and is, thus, well qualified to help restructure the BCCI.

Needless to say she went through the ignominy suffered by so many cricketing women when she was refused entry to the inner sanctums of Lord’s even though she was in charge of the Indian tour of England in 1986.  Apparently she suggested that the MCC be renamed MCP (Male Chauvinist Pig).

She also clashed repeatedly with former BCCI president N Srinivasan who told her that regarding women’s cricket,

“I’m not interested, we have no choice but to run it, so we are running it for the sake of running it.”

She has also been a devoted advocate of better conditions and pay for the women’s game and is not afraid of wading into an argument.

Watch this space to see how it goes.

Kia Super League

Big news from the Kia Super League this week, with not only the fixtures being announced, but also a new broadcast package from Sky and TMS.

Thursday 10 August – Southern Vipers v Western Storm (Ageas Bowl, live on Sky Sports)
Friday 11 August – Yorkshire Diamonds v Lancashire Thunder (Headingley, live on Sky Sports)
Saturday 12 August – Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning (Taunton, live on Sky Sports)
Sunday 13 August – Surrey Stars v Yorkshire Diamonds (Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports)
Tuesday 15 August – Loughborough Lightning v Southern Vipers (Derby, live on Sky Sports)
Wednesday 16 August – Lancashire Thunder v Surrey Stars (Emirates Old Trafford, live on Sky Sports)
Friday 18 August – Loughborough Lightning v Yorkshire Diamonds (Loughborough)
Sunday 20 August – Lancashire Thunder v Loughborough Lightning (Blackpool CC)
Sunday 20 August – Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars (Ageas Bowl)
Sunday 20 August – Yorkshire Diamonds v Western Storm (York CC)
Wednesday 23 August – Lancashire Thunder v Southern Vipers (Liverpool CC)
Wednesday 23 August – Surrey Stars v Western Storm (Guildford CC)
Saturday 26 August – Surrey Stars v Loughborough Lightning (Guildford CC)
Saturday 26 August – Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (The Brightside Ground, Bristol)
Saturday 26 August – Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds (Arundel)
Friday 1 September – Finals day (1st Central County Ground, Hove, live on Sky Sports)

There will be six double-headers with the T20 Blast.  There will be coverage from every round on Test Match Special.  Personally I’m still not convinced about the efficacy of double-headers in either the cricket fashion (women playing before) or rugby fashion (women playing afterwards.).  I’d be happy to hear what you think.

WBBL

Perth Scorchers were unable to do the double last Saturday as the women’s team lost to the Sydney Sixers at the WACA in the final of the second WBBL.

The Sixers batted first and scored a respectable 124/5.  Alyssa Healy, in storming form throughout the tournament, was top scorer with 40 and Marizanne Kapp scored 34 not out.  English fast bowler Anya Shrubsole took 2/17.

The Scorchers were unable to reach the target though, falling short by seven runs.  They finished on 117/7 off their 20 overs.  Katherine Brunt top scored with 35 not out.  Nicole Bolton scored 34.  Sarah Aley took 4/23.

So that’s two from two for Sydney as the Thunder took the inaugural competition in 2016.

World Cup Qualifying Tournament

The World Cup Qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka gets underway on 7 February.

Group A comprises:  India, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand

Group B comprises: South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and PNG

Four places are still up for grabs.

Tennis

Serena Williams claimed her 23rd Grand Slam title on Saturday as she beat her sister Venus to win the Australian Open in Melbourne.

She won the match in straight sets, 6-4 6-4.

Winter Sports

More success for Britain in winter sports this week.

Snowboarder Katie Ormerod won a bronze medal in slopestyle at the X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

She scored 80.33.  The gold was taken by Julia Marino on 94.66.

Meanwhile, in bobsleigh, Mica Moore and Mica McNeill won junior Bobsleigh World Championship gold in Winterberg, Germany.

Moore of Wales and McNeill of England only teamed up this winter but have already won four medals in competition.  They won in Winterberg in a time of 53.96 seconds.  Anna Koehler and Franziska Fritz of Germany won silver with compatriots Kim Kalicki and Lisa-Sophie Gericke taking bronze.

And finally

French League Un club, Lille, have offered free match tickets to women after sexist banners appeared in the crowd with their match at Lyon.

I’m sure most of you have seen the banners; one was a picture of a man with the word “stadium” underneath, while the second was a woman with the word “kitchen” underneath.

Ironic really, as the Lille women’s team have won the French title 14 times…..

 

Women’s Sports Column 21-27 January 2017

stumps2Welcome to this week’s column.  Apologies for there being no column last week, but I’m back with a vengeance this week with stories from cricket, football, swimming, winter sports, rugby, tennis, boxing, golf, hockey and cycling.  Plus back to one of my hobby horses for “And finally”, but unfortunately it has to be said (again).

So let’s crack on.

Rachael Heyhoe-Flint 

Although I missed the chance to feature Rachael last week, I couldn’t let the chance go by to pay tribute to a true pioneer of women’s cricket.  Every cliché has been said, broadcast and printed over the last couple of weeks, but in this case you cannot help but say “trailblazer”, “pioneer”, “innovator” etc.

There isn’t space to do her justice here, but to capture the highlights of a fabulous career:

England Cricket Captain 1966- 1978

Played in the first ever women’s test match at Lords v Australia in 1976

22 Test matches

23 One-day internationals

Inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010

First woman to go onto MCC committee in 2004 and the ECB Board

This was just the cricket.  She also was devoted to Wolverhampton Wanderers, including time as vice-president and the city of Wolverhampton, including being president of.

She was awarded an MBE in 1972, OBE in 2008 and made a life peer in 2011.

I think we can safely say women’s cricket wouldn’t be where it is today without her.

 Golf

Muirfield will take another vote on allowing women members after the first one fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the move.

The result is expected some time in March.  The R&A has indicated that the course will be unable to stage another Open Championship until its policy is reversed.

Hockey

 World Hockey League

 Ireland have won the first section of Round Two of the World Hockey League in Kuala Lumpur.

They beat Malaysia 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

Anna O’Flanagan, Katie Mullan and Zoe Wilson were the goalscorers.

They had beaten Wales in the semi-finals.

The next section of round 2 takes place in Valencia from 4-12 February.

 Football

 England Lionesses

England played two friendlies in Spain this week.

England 0-1 Norway

England lost their first match of 2017 and in doing so their 10-match unbeaten run came to an end.

Ada Hegerberg scored the only goal of the game half way through the first half, heading home from a cross from her sister, Andrine.

England did have chances to equalise with both Fara Williams and Lucy Bronze shooting over and a shot from Steph Houghton cleared off the line.

England also had a claim for a penalty, after Ellen White appeared to be pushed in the box, but the appeal was dismissed.

England 0-0 Sweden

Siobhan Chamberlain saved a second-half penalty to earn England a draw in Murcia on Tuesday.

Sweden also had the ball in the back of the net in the first-half, but it was ruled out for offside.

It was a game of few chances, and although manager Mark Sampson will be pleased at the clean sheet, he may be concerned at his side’s inability to score in either game.

England’s next fixtures are against France, USA and Germany in the She Believes Cup in March.

Indian Football

There was a big announcement in Indian football this week.  The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has launched a six-team women’s league.  It is small steps indeed, as the league will take place over two weeks and all games will be played at the Ambedkar Stadium in Dehli.

The project has taken two years to come to fruition and the teams taking part are FC Alakhpura, Jeppiaar Institute of Technology FC, Aizawl FC, FC Pune City, Rising Student Club and Eastern Sporting Union.

There will be a round robin stage with the top four going into semi-finals.

The first game takes place on 28 January.

As I say, it may seem small steps to us, but in terms of the development of women’s football in India, this is a giant stride.  Watch this space for results and more news as the tournament progresses.

National Football Museum

The National Football Museum in Manchester has been given a grant to maintain and enlarge its collection of women’s football memorabilia.

Interim director of the museum, Kevin Haygarth, said,

“We’re delighted this grant will help us significantly document the history of one of the world’s most participated sports – women’s football.

“The museum has always told the story of the women’s game throughout its main galleries and Hall Of Fame, but we’re grateful and excited by the opportunity to create a dedicated gallery where we can finally piece together the lost history of women’s football.”

Tennis

The Australian Open final is going to be a stunner.  It will be between Serena and Venus Williams.  It is Venus’s first major final since 2009 and Serena is going for her 23rd grand slam so it is bound to be well fought.

Venus, seeded 13. Beat fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-7 6-2 6-2 in her semi-final while Serena had far too much for the unseeded Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-2 6-1.

Johanna Konta came up against Serena in the quarter-final.  This was the first time the two had met.  Konta was in a prodigious run of form and had not lost a set during the championships.  But she could not live with Williams and was beaten 6-2 6-3.

With the men’s final possibly heading for a Federer v Nadal showdown, we seem to have gone back in time!

The women’s doubles title was won by second seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Šafářová.  They beat Andrea Hlaváčková and Peng Shuai in three sets 6-7 6-3 6-3.  This is their second grand slam win in a row.

Winter Sports

Skiing

You can’t keep a phenomenal skier down.

Lindsey Vonn claimed her first win in almost a year this week when she won the downhill at Garmisch, Germany on Saturday.

She beat Swiss skier, Lara Gut, by 0.15 seconds.  The win was Vonn’s 77th World Cup race win.

Para-skiing

It was a great start to competition for Britain at the World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Italy as Britain’s Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild won downhill gold in a time of 13.42 seconds.

The 18-year old beat five time champion Henrieta Farkasova of Slovakia into second.

Knight’s run was not without its moments though, as she hit the barrier at the end and became stuck under it.  She was treated by doctors after she complained of feeling dizzy and sick afterwards.

In the same event Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe finished fifth.

It was bad news for Paralympic champion Kelly Gallagher, though, as she misses the event after crashing in training.  She suffered a dislocated elbow and three fractured ribs in the accident.  She was testing the championship course, and although she landed her jump correctly, she then slid into the barrier net which caused the injury.

The Championships take place from 25-31 January and 130 skiers from 30 countries are taking part.

Speed skating

Britain’s Charlotte Gilmartin took 500m bronze at the European Short Track Championships in Turin this week.  She did not qualify for the 1500m final but recovered well to finish third in the shorter distance with a time of 44.074 seconds.  Gold went to Rianne de Vries of Holland and Italy’s Martina Valcepina took silver.

Cricket

WBBL

The Women’s Big Bash League final will be between the Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers (as will the men’s final!).

Semi-final details:

Sydney Sixers 169-6 (20 overs)
Hobart Hurricanes 66 all out (14.1 overs)
Sixers won by 103 runs

Alyssa Healy starred with the bat for the Sixers, scoring 77 from 45 balls.

The Hurricanes were never at the races.  England captain, Heather Knight, was run out for three and the Hurricanes were bowled out for just 66.  Dane van Niekerk was pick of the bowlers with 3 for 15.

Brisbane Heat 124-5 (20 overs)
Perth Scorchers 125-1 (15.4 overs)
Scorchers won by nine wickets

The Brisbane score was competitive but the Heat didn’t reckon with Elyse Villani.  The opener made 52 not out and Nicole Bolton 36 to take the home side to the final.

England fast bowling duo of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole were unable to make a mark in the semi-final, but will hoping to contribute for the Scorchers at the Waca (The Furnace) on Saturday.

The final will be played on Saturday 28 in a double-header with the men’s.  Full coverage will be on BT Sport.

Boxing

Nicola Adams has left the GB Boxing programme to turn professional.

She has signed with promoter Frank Warren and will make her professional debut in Manchester on 8 April.  Her second fight will be in Leeds, her home town, on 13 May.

Warren was initially sceptical about the concept of women boxing, but appears to have changed his mind (could it be he knows when he’s on to a good thing?)

In an interview with the BBC he said,

“Of all of all the signings I have made in my 35 years in the sport of boxing, this is among the most I have been excited about.

“I think Nicola will be challenging for world titles within a year. We intend to lead her to become a multiple world champion.”

Ireland’s Katie Taylor has already shown it can be done.  Let’s hope Adams can have similar successes.

Rugby Union

Six Nations

The Six Nations begins next week. The first round of matches is:

Friday 3 February

Scotland Women v Ireland Women (6.35pm Broadwood Stadium)

Saturday 4 February

Italy Women v Wales Women (3pm Stadio Comunale Pacifico Carotti)

En gland Women v France Women (7.30pm Twickenham)

Check out the squads and match details here: http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/women/#Jas1vHmPQWwEKguy.97

Sevens

England has named its squad for the Sydney Sevens, the second leg of the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series, which takes place on 3-4 February.  England finished a creditable fourth in the first round in Dubai.

Rachael Woosey and Chantelle Miell make their debut.

The squad is:

  1. Natasha Brennan, 2. Abbie Brown (C), 3. Alice Richardson-Watmore, 4. Millie Wood, 5. Lauren Cattell, 6. Rachael Woosey, 7. Heather Fisher, 8. Kelly Smith, 9. Fran Matthews, 10. Jo Richardson-Watmore, 11. Katie Mason, 12. Chantelle Miell

They play in pool C and this is the pool schedule (all times GMT):

Friday 3 February

England v Spain, KO 1.30am

England v USA, KO 4.12am

England v Russia, 7.16am

All games are available to see on the World Rugby website

http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/videoTop of Form

Swimming

Open water swimmer Keri-Anne Payne has announced her retirement this week.

Payne, 29, was a two-time open water world champion and Olympic silver medallist.  She represented Great Britain for over 12 years.

Cycling

The rumblings of discontent with British Cycling and cycling in general, continue.  Nicole Cooke, who always speaks her mind, was again in the press this week.

She was giving evidence to a Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday.

She said that she is “sceptical” of Team Sky’s attitude to drug use and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ TUE use.

But this was just one of her points.  She also said that British Cycling is run “by men for men”.

The committee was meeting to discuss doping in sport, but that didn’t stop Cooke expressing opinions on other aspects of the governing body’s capabilities.

She gave examples of the sexism she had seen during her career and said that BC shows “discrimination and favouritism” because it is only “answerable to itself”.

She was asked outright whether she though sexism was culturally embedded in British Cycling.

“Yes I do,” she replied.

British Cycling has since released a statement in which it says,

“While there is still a way to go, British Cycling is absolutely committed to resolving the historic gender imbalance in our sport.”

UK Sport has also launched an independent review to look into some of Cooke’s claims.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – sadly, this one will run and run.

And finally,

I make no apologies for this although I know it’s something I keep banging on about.  Serena Williams is about to go for her 23rd grand slam title on Saturday.  Her talent, skill and fitness should all be beyond doubt.  I have already made a vow to stop reading the comments sections on news site articles, but, unfortunately I slipped and read the ones after the BBC’s report on the Williams v Konta match.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Konta fan, and I would have been happy for her to have won the tie.  She has a great future and is improving all the time.  But the level of abuse, invective, racism and misogyny levelled at Serena in these comments was appalling.

So many (men) called Serena a man – well I don’t know any men who look like that.  But the one that stuck in my mind was (again a man) the description of her as a “monster in a skirt”.  Really?  Monster?

The comment reminded me of that Facebook comment about Michelle Obama, “chimp in heels”.  Both comments totally unwarranted and totally offensive.

I know I’m fighting for a Serena who doesn’t need my help – she’s probably as immune to negative comment as she’s ever going to be right now, but I’m not necessarily speaking on her behalf.  I was offended.  I was angry that some person had thought it was appropriate to air this view on a public platform.

I think I’m trying to say, if you can’t stop having these thoughts, just spare the rest of us and keep them to yourself.

Women’s Sports Column 26 November – 2 December

sarah-storeyWelcome to this week’s column.  Yet again there’s a lot to get through, so here we go.  This week’s stories come from hockey, tennis, football, rugby, sevens, boxing, netball, cricket, cycling and to match last week’s Action Woman shortlist, this week we look at the women shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.  This week’s “And finally” comes from tennis, and the ever-inspirational Serena Williams.

Hockey

I am the first to admit that I do not follow hockey with any diligence.  Consequently it appears only rarely in the column.  This didn’t stop me getting practically hysterical during the Olympic final, but I do realise that I should do more for this under-reported sport.

This is a shout-out to Martin, who regularly reminds me of my lack of hockey knowledge and coverage.

Premier League

On 26 November Surbiton Ladies beat second-placed Holcome 4-1 which meant they are unbeaten in 50 Premier League matches.

Surbiton’s last defeat was at home to Leicester in February 2014.

Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup

The World Cup takes place between 24 November and 4 December in Santiago, Chile.  Sixteen countries are involved, including England.

We are now at the semi-final stage.  England lost in the quarter-finals to Spain.  The quarter-final results were as follows:

Netherlands 5-0 Germany

Spain 5-3 England

Spain’s goals came from Garcia, Iglesias (2), Amundson, Serrahima

England’s goals came through Sanders, Crowson (2)

Argentina 2-0 USA

Australia 7-2 Belgium

The semi-finals are to be played on 2 December with the final on Sunday 4 December.

 And don’t forget, the full Women’s World Cup will be held in London from 7-21 July, 2018.  Tickets go on sale in 2017, so keep an eye out for that. 

 Football

 Netherlands 0-1 England

Tilburg 29 November 2016

 England’s unbeaten run now stands at 10 matches with this friendly win in Tilburg.

The first-half was tight but produced few chances.

The second-half saw an England improvement and the match was decided by a Jodie Taylor lob with 15 minutes to go.

 Under 20s Women’s World Cup

Semi-finals

North Korea 2-1 USA

(after extra time)

 

Japan 1-2 France

(after extra time)

The final will take place on 3 December.

Netball

The three-match test series between the England Roses and Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls is underway.

 29 November

Copper Box Arena London

 England 49-66

According to reports, Tracy Neville was furious with this England performance and they will need to improve in the next two to get anything at all from the series.

England were 16-12 up after the first quarter, but by half-time they were down 31-27.  After the half-time break Jamaica seemed t o go up a gear and stretched away to take the game.

The second game is at Belle Vue in Manchester on Friday 2 December, with the third on Sunday 4 at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.  I’ll be there for the third game, so look out for a more detailed report next week.

Rugby Union

The big news from last weekend’s matches is the first defeat of the season for Bristol as they were thumped by Aylesford Bulls, but second placed Lichfield also slip up and miss out on the chance to close the gap.

26 November 2016

Saracens Women 27-0 Lichfield Ladies

Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women

27 November 2016

Aylesford bulls Ladies 51-5 Bristol Ladies

Wasps Ladies 34-22 DMP Sharks Ladies

For a more in-depth report, please see my latest for Women’s Sports UK.

Rugby Sevens

The Dubai Sevens took place on 1-2 December

England

England reached the semi-finals.  They won their first match 31-7 against Spain and the second against Brazil, 28-7.  In the third, Canada took the honours 24-12.

In the quarter-finals they faced Fiji, producing and excellent display to win 19-17.  England scored first through a Fisher try which was not converted by Watmore.  Tinai made it 5-5 but was unable to add the extras.  In the second half Fiji took the lead with a try from A M Roqica, but the conversion was missed.  Nagasau made it 15-5 in the 12th minute and this was converted by Tinai.  But England were not to be outdone.  Tries from Richardson and Watmore and two conversions took the score to 19-17 and a semi-final against favourites, Australia.

Australia took the semi-final 31-10.  Two minutes in England were behind through a try from Caslick, which was converted by Dalton.  Brown struck back for England, but Richardson was unable to convert.  Then Tonegato scored for Australia, but Cherry missed the conversion and at half-time it was 5-12 to Australia.  Straight after the break the Aussies scored again, this time through Penitani.   The conversion was missed, but not long after Penitani scored her second try, this time complete with the extra two points from Cherry and the score was 5-24.  England’s fate was sealed when Brennan went in again, although the conversion was missed.  England had the last word with a try from Murphy, converted by Dalton to take the final score to 10-31.

In the Bronze Final England faced Russia.  Russia won 17-14 to take third place.  Zdrokova began the scoring in the second minute with a try, but Kudinova couldn’t convert.   Zdrokova went over for her second just before half-time, again unconverted to take the score to 10-0 to Russia at the break.  In the second-half Brennan scored a try for England which was converted by Richardson.  Then Russia scored again, this time through Mikhaltsova, converted by Kudiniova.  England managed one more try from Fleming, converted by Cattell, but the game was gone.

 

Ireland

Ireland lost their first game 27-5 to New Zealand and their second, 24-14 to France.   They came back with an excellent 17-17 draw against Fiji.

They played USA in the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, winning it 28-5.

And they won the final 14-12 against Spain.  Spain took the lead in the final with a try from Garcia which she also converted.  They went 12-0 up in the seventh minute through Casado, but Garcia missed the extras.  The second-half was a different matter as Ireland fought hard to get back into it.  Williams scored a try two minutes in, which was converted by Mulhall.  Then Mulhall went over for Ireland’s second to level it at 12-12 and then she put over the conversion to put them in the lead, and to secure the Challenge Trophy.

Dubai Women’s Sevens Final

New Zealand 17-5 Australia

New Zealand came out on top in the gold medal match in Dubai.

New Zealand took the lead with a try from Woodman after two minutes.  Nathan-Wong missed the conversion.  Just one minute later Cordero-Tufuga went over again, but again it went unconverted.  Australia came back into with a try through Cherry but Sykes missed the conversion.  But New Zealand were not finished and a second from Cordero-Tufuga, this time converted by Nathan-Wong saw New Zealand take the title 17-5.

Round Two of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will be in Sydney on 3-4 February 2017.

Boxing

Katie Taylor’s professional career got off to a perfect start on Saturday when she stopped her Polish opponent, Karina Kopinska in the third round.

Her second bout will be against Brazil’s Viviane Obenauf on 10 December in Manchester.  Obenauf has only suffered one defeat in ten contests and should provide a much stiffer test for Taylor.

Tennis

Anne Keothavong has been appointed GB Fed Cup captain and senior national women’s coach.

She takes over from Judy Murray as Fed Cup captain.

GB begins its Fed Cup campaign in Estonia in February 2017.

 

In a surprise move, Johanna Konta has split with her coach of two years, Esteban Carill.

2016 has been Konta’s breakthrough year, a year in which she won her first WTA Tour title at Stanford and reached a career-high world ranking of ten.

Cricket

Charlotte Edwards

The big cricket news this week is undoubtedly the announcement that former England captain, Charlotte Edwards, is to leave Kent.

In a press release issued by Kent CCC Edwards is quoted,

“I would like to thank everyone at Kent County Cricket Club for all their support over the past 18 years. I’m immensely proud to have played for the county and what the team has achieved within that time.

“Kent is very much seen as one of the leading counties within the women’s game due to it consistently producing players to the England Pathway.

“It’s been a really tough decision to leave Kent but ultimately I feel it’s the right decision for me and more importantly the current team. Having won the double in 2016 I feel this is a fitting end to my time as a Kent cricketer.”

Edwards joined Kent in 2000 and with them has won seven County Championships.

Her personal record speaks for itself.  In her Kent career she played 136 matches and scored 6,164 runs at an average of 61.64.  She made 40 half-centuries and 14 centuries.

She also took 124 wickets at an average of 17.51 and claimed 81 catches.

Edwards will, undoubtedly, stay in cricket and it remains to be seen just what her next move will be.

Cycling

Bad news this week from Dame Sarah Storey.  You may remember that it was only in June that I attended the launch of Storey’s all-women Podium Ambition team at Café Ventoux in Leicestershire.

It was expected that the café would be the base for the 2017 season, but after just one season the team has had to disband due to lack of sponsorship funding.  In an interview with The Mixed Zone Storey says,

“We have been unable to secure sufficient cash input to remain a UCI-registered team. We spent the last 12 months searching for a title sponsor to start with us from 2017, but despite many brands being interested, there was nothing concrete in place in time for the deadline to register the team again.

“Barney and I spent 2016 covering the lion’s share of the budget ourselves and without that money in our savings now, we don’t have a back-up. The cost of running even a small UCI team is significant and we weren’t going to continue struggling.”

It is well worth reading the whole article, so here’s the link.

The news is unbelievably disappointing.  At the launch there was a good deal of optimism and good will. Chris Boardman was there with his bikes and the team looked good.  But unfortunately, it’s just another example of the woeful levels of corporate investment in women’s sport.  And the scary thing is that if some of the biggest names in the sport, Dame Sarah Storey, Barney Storey, Chris Boardman, can’t attract sponsorship, what chance does any lesser, but aspiring name have? 

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016

In what has been a stellar year for sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist is 16-strong.   There are six women on the list:

Nicola Adams (Boxing)

Sophie Christiansen (Equestrian)

Kadeena Cox (Athletics and cycling)

Laura Kenny (Cycling)

Kate Richardson-Walsh (Hockey)

Dame Sarah Storey (Cycling)

The public vote for this award via telephone during the live show on 18 December.

 

In the Young Personality of the Year award the shortlist is 10.  Out of these, eight are women/girls:

Ellie Downie (Gymnastics and winner of the 2015 award)

Sophie Ecclestone (Cricket)

Ellie Robinson (Swimming)

Lauren Rowles (Rowing)

Georgia Stanway (Football)

Jess Stretton (Archery)

Rebekah Tiler (Weight lifting)

Amy Tinkler (Gymnastics)

This award is decided by expert panel.

 

And Finally, Serena Williams has written an open letter in Porter Magazine’s Incredible Women of 2016 issue.  In it she re-iterates her themes of equality and fairness.

The Guardian has reprinted the letter:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/nov/29/dream-big-open-letter-serena-williams-porter-magazine-incredible-women-of-2016-issue-women-athletes

The first two responses in the comments section are:

“Jason Stoltenberg was a much better tennis player than Serena Williams. Williams would struggle to get a couple of games off him. But Williams has made much more money than Stoltenberg.  What’s her beef?”

‘My dream was to be the best tennis player in the world.’  Well she quite clearly failed in that regard. She wouldn’t even beat the 200th-ranked male tennis player. Why does she continue trotting out this garbage? She should be happy with what she’s achieved.”

Obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this is the standard in a “quality” newspaper.  Needless to say quite a few responses have been removed by the moderator, and many others are worse than those listed.  Missing the point?  Er, yes, just slightly.  The world should be grateful for women like Serena speaking up, telling her story and making her case.  In the twenty-first century any woman speaking out is still met with hostility, cynicism and scorn.  I’m happy to post the link to this letter and encourage all of you to read it.

 

Women’s Sports Column 6-12 August

 

cricket-ballWelcome to this week’s Olympics+ column. As I indicated last week, I can’t keep up with all the stories and results from the Olympics, but I would be remiss if I didn’t report on some of my favourites. So, as well as my highs and lows from the first Olympic week, I also have stories from tennis, cricket, football, sailing and sports politics.

So let’s plunge straight in!

Highs

Cycling

It may just be my age, but top of my list is Kristin Armstrong’s win in the time trial on 10 August. At a mere 42 years, 364 days, she won her third Olympic time trial title in a row in a time of 44:26.42, five seconds ahead of Russian Olga Zabelinskaya in second. Anna van der Breggen, who won the road race earlier in the week, took the bronze. In difficult wet and windy conditions Armstrong looked strongest and most able to cope.

Gymnastics

And while we’re on the subject of age, what about 41-year old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, who competed in her seventh Olympic Games this week? She won her first medal in 1992, a team gold for the Unified Team (former USSR). She competed for Germany in 2008, winning a silver in the vault. She now competes for Uzbekistan. There are some great pictures of her with her 17-year old son! Inspirational! At Rio she qualified for the individual vault and finished fifth.

The US gymnastics team wowed everyone this week with their power, talent, grace and style, fitting winners of the team event. Pity the NBC commentator said, when they were having a group discussion, “They might as well be in a mall.” Yes, because that’s all women are interested in.

Judo

Another high for me was been Sally Conway’s silver medal in the judo -70kg class. She was very unlucky to lose the semi-final to Colombian Yuri Alvear but came good in the bronze medal match against Bernadette Graf of Austria, winning by a single yuko to nil.

Rugby Sevens

Finally, the phenomenon that is rugby sevens. Making its first appearance in the Olympic Games this year, the tournament has been a feast of fast-flowing, attacking, heart-pounding athleticism. Australia won the tournament, beating New Zealand in the gold medal match 24-17. The Australians outscored the Black Ferns by four tries to three. Crucially, two of the tries were scored when Portia Woodman was in the sin bin. Woodman still finished top of the try-scoring tree with ten.

Canada took the bronze, beating Great Britain by 33-10. This was a real disappointment for Emily Scarratt’s side which had thrashed the same team in the pool match, 22-0.

All in all a brilliant entry into the Olympic timetable.

And possible British highlights to come include the rowing, track cycling, athletics, hockey, sailing, and it goes on…..

Lows

Top of everyone’s low has to be the crash suffered by Annamiek van Vleuten in the road race on Sunday 7 August. I bet I wasn’t the only one to shed a tear as she lay motionless on the side of the road. The fact that we didn’t get any further information for some time heightened the horrible worry of it all. The rest of the event was a bit of a blur. Happy to say that although Annamiek remains in hospital in Rio, she is improving. It was amazing when she tweeted that she had suffered

“a few injuries and fractures” as if it was nothing. Mind you, I’m not sure I would have borne this tweet with which a kindly chap replied;

“First lesson in bicycling, keep your bike steady…whether fast or slow”.

Gee thanks Martin. That’s a real help; that would never have occurred to me.

Not wanting to sound grouchy about it, but there have been some hideous examples of sexist reporting already, most of which would make classic entries into the “And finally” annals of this column.

The NBC network in the USA is a particular favourite in this category as we have already seen with the “mall” comment:

 Of star swimmer Katie Ledecky,

“some people say she swims like a man”

Of star gymnast Simone Biles

“I think she might even go higher than some of the men”

On Hungarian star swimmer, Katinka Hosszu, after she broke the 400m medley world record,

“Here’s the person responsible” (her husband and coach)

And my personal favourite, NBC’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Miller, on the reason for their broadcast delays;

“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and minseries wrapped into one….”

But the ultimate prize goes to the Chicago Tribune. Corey Codgell, a local sportswoman, won bronze in Rio in the trap shooting. Her reward, a tweet from her local paper, the Tribune;

“Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics”.

Need I say more? Classy.

Any woman competing in a hijab has been under scrutiny, particularly when it can be illustrated in such hilarious term of cover-up v bikini at the beach volleyball.

And, somewhat disappointingly, there has been some degree of homophobic chanting, particularly at the football. It has largely been aimed at the USA team, which does contain some lesbian athletes, but the chant of “bicha” seems aimed at them all.

So let’s see what week two brings; some fantastic sport certainly, some distinctly unprofessional comments, probably, but no doubt we’ll all be there glued to the action.

Tennis

Away from the Olympics, a stranger-than-fiction story broke earlier this week when it was suggested that the police are investigating an allegation that British tennis player, Gabriella Taylor, was poisoned during the Junior Wimbledon championships in June.

Taylor withdrew from the tournament during her quarter-final match after succumbing to a mystery illness, spending four days in intensive care, where she was, according to her mother, “close to death”.

Taylor finally returned to training this week.

The police investigation is ongoing.

Cricket

Plenty of cricket news to report this week as the KSL is now in full swing. With only five games to go in the pool stage, things are hotting up and by the end of the weekend we will know who will be at Finals Day on 21st August in Chelmsford. There have been some excellent tight games as well as some one-sided ones, but generally the standard of cricket has been good with plenty of county cricketers making a contribution as well as the more famous England players or international names.

Sunday 7 August

Surrey Stars v Western Storm
Bristol
Stars 161/6 (20 Overs)
Storm 165/5 (19.4 overs)
Storm won by 5 wickets

What a stunning game! Stars have seriously under-performed so far in this tournament so when they hit 161 off their 20, they must have thought their form was about to change. Captain Nat Sciver hit a wonderful 90 not out, but she had precious little back-up from the lower order.

But they didn’t reckon on Stafanie Taylor. When tweeting about this game I ran out of “wows “. Storm got off to a terrible start and were 17/3 in the fourth over. Captain, and in-form all-rounder Heather Knight was dismissed cheaply for just six. Enter Taylor. She and South African Lizelle Lee put on 76 for the fourth wicket before Lee was caught by Sciver off the bowling of Tahuhu for 53. Georgia Hennessey went for just one, but then Taylor and Sophie Luff put on an unbeaten stand of 71 to take the game away from Surrey. Taylor’s innings contained six 4s and five 6s.

Unlucky for Sciver to be on the losing side after such a great innings of 90.

Monday 8 August
Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds
Southampton
Vipers 118/4 (20 overs)
Diamonds 64 all out (16.3 overs)
Vipers won by 54 runs and take a bonus point

Southern Vipers were unbeaten coming into this match and favourites to top the table.

They batted first at the Ageas Bowl and would have been expected to make a big score against the badly-performing Diamonds. But when Charlotte Edwards was caught behind off her first ball from Katherine Brunt, it could have been a different story. Collis, McGlashan and Greenway all followed cheaply and it was left to opener Suzie Bates and former England all-rounder Arran Brindle to build a partnership.

Scoring was difficult on a slow pitch, but the pair worked hard, taking the Vipers to a satisfactory total of 118 with both Bates and Brindle finishing unbeaten on 45.

But, as all cricket fans will know, you can’t judge a total until both sides have batted. At the half-way stage the Vipers could have no idea that their 118 would be more than enough to take the win.

Diamonds have seriously under-performed in this tournament and against the Vipers their batting was abject. The only batter to make double figures was Beth Mooney with 17. Best bowling figures were for Berkshire player Linsey Smith who took 4/10 off her four overs. She was backed up by Bates and Nielsen who took two wickets each.

 

Tuesday 9 August
 
Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder
Guildford
Thunder 102/9 (20 overs)
Surrey 106/3 (15.2 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets with 28 balls remaining

Lancashire have had an up and down tournament, to say the least. Batting first at Guildford they lost Hayley Matthews for a duck after just two balls.

Emma Lamb, Amy Satterthwaite and Laura McLeod tried to take it on. Lamb scored 27 and McLeod 17, but it was Satterthwaite who showed the way, scoring an unbeaten 34. Unfortunately, she ran out of partners, with both Dottin and Wyatt out for ducks and no-one else getting into double figures. They limped to a disappointing 102.

England spinner Alex Hartley took 3/11 off four while Marizanne Kapp took 2/ 18 from her four.

In response the Stars cruised to the total with 28 balls to spare. Tammy Beaumont scored an unbeaten 45, with contributions of Bryony Smith with 30 and Nat Sciver with 14.

 

In other KSL cricket news, the ECB announced this week that they would be creating KSL Regional Development Centres. They will start this autumn and will provide coaching for up to 120 girls under the age of 16.

This will replace the England Women’s Development Programme for under 15s. It is hoped that the result will be a stream of talent that will play for both county and KSL.

Sport England is contributing significant funds to the scheme as part of their “Reward and Incentive Programme”.

While we love to see any investment in women’s cricket, I still fear for the future of county cricket as more and more emphasis is placed on the KSL, particularly when the 50-over competition begins next season.

 

South Africa won their four-match ODI series against Ireland 3-1.

They took an unassailable 3-0 lead, before Ireland claimed a consolation win on Thursday 11.

1st ODI, 5 August

South Africa 283/7 (50 overs)
Ireland 194 all out (44.5 overs)
South Africa won by 89 runs

2nd ODI, 7 August
South Africa 272/6 (50 overs)
Ireland 204 all out (48.2 overs)
South Africa won by 68 runs

3rd ODI, 9 August
South Africa 260/6 (50 overs)
Ireland 193 all out (45 overs)
South Africa won by 67 runs

Notable because Laura van Wolvaardt became the youngest South African player (male or female) to score a hundred. The 17-year old scored 105 in her team’s series clinching win. Sune Luus also picked up her second five-for in three games with 5/32 off 10 overs.
4th ODI, 11 August
South Africa 143 all out (46.4 overs)
Ireland 146/3 (36.1 overs)
Ireland won by 7 wickets

For the fourth time in a row South Africa batted first, but this time Ireland performed beautifully with both bat and ball to take the consolation win. Kim Garth and Ciara Metcalfe took three wickets each to restrict the Proteas to 143 and Isobel Joyce scored an unbeaten 62 to win by seven wickets with 14 overs to spare.

 

Football

The Continental Cup semi-finalists have been decided this week and among the quarter-finals there was an interesting ”first” when Manchester City Women became the first club to stream a game live on Facebook .   The club has 4.5 million likes on its Facebook page. They played Doncaster Belles in the Continental Cup quarter-final on Sunday 7 August.

First team to qualify for the semi-finals was Arsenal:

Friday 5 August

Arsenal Ladies 3 – 2 Notts County Ladies

Fara Williams converted a last minute penalty at the Hive to send Arsenal through to the semi-finals of the Continental Cup.

The home side took the lead in the eighth minute through a Casey Stoney header, but it was level at half-time when Fern Whelan headed in from Jo Potter’s free kick.

Notts County star striker, Jess Clarke came on after the break and scored just seven minutes into the second half, making the score 2-1.

But with just eight minutes to go, Arsenal sub Kelly Smith struck from 20 yards to equalise.

The momentum was with Arsenal and when County conceded the penalty there was only going to be one result.

Sunday 7 August

Birmingham City Ladies 0-0 Liverpool Ladies

Birmingham won 1-0 after extra time

Both sides had chances in regular time at Solihull Moors, but the deadlock was not to be broken.

But it was Birmingham who went all-out in extra time and they were rewarded in the final added minute of extra time injury time (!) when Coral-Jade Haines put the ball past Siobhan Chamberlain to claim the win.

Manchester City Women 4-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Manchester City are looking invincible on all fronts. It may have been 38 minutes before they took the lead, but after they did the result was never going to be in doubt.

The league leaders’ first goal came through Izzy Christiansen in the 38th minute, but they didn’t score a second until the 78th when the in-form Georgia Stanway made it two. Belles pulled one back Marta Bakowska-Mathews just two minutes later, but City were not be outdone.

Two late goals from Toni Duggan and Jane Ross flattered the home side somewhat, but they were easily too strong for a Belles side hit by injuries.

Sheffield FC Ladies 0-2 London Bees

It’s good to see some different names doing well in the cup. London Bees’ surprise win over Chelsea in the last round obviously buoyed them up significantly as they went into this quarter-final.

After a goalless first half, Ashleigh Goddard scored the first for Bees in the 63rd minute with Evie Clarke making sure of the win with a last-minute goal.

This win meant the Bees are the first WSL2 side to reach a Continental Cup semi-final.

 

There has only been one FAWSL fixture this week:

Doncaster Rovers Belles 0-4 Manchester City Women

For the second time in week, City put four past a luckless Belles side to keep up their winning run in the top flight.

Jane Ross scored for the leaders in the first minute, with Izzy Christiansen adding a second on the 15 minute mark.

In the second half Lucy Bronze stuck the ball away from a Toni Duggan cross and substitute Daphne Corboz sealed the win with a fourth in the 89th minute.

The Belles are still looking for their first league win of the season.

Sailing

It has been Cowes Week this week so Abby Ehler has been a tiny bit busy! You’ll be glad to know, though, that she’s agreed to write a piece on how it all went, which will appear in next week’s column.

Sporting politics

Two pieces of sports politics this week (if everything else isn’t political):

Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has vowed to involve women in her country in sport.

Her plans include licensing women’s gyms and modifying outdoor spaces so that they are suitable for women to train and play in. She will also look at the recruitment of female coaches, putting women’s toilet and changing facilities in public spaces and the design of sports clothes in line with traditional rules.

The Princess is tipped to take a post at the Saudi General Sports Authority next month and if she does, this could mean a sea-change in the way sport for women is perceived in Saudi Arabia. She is currently in Rio supporting the four-strong women’s Saudi team (up two from London 2012).

 

Russian double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva has announced that she is going to run for president of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).

“The chance to help Russian athletes return to the elite is a huge motivation for me,”

“It will be some sort of compensation for not being able to compete in Rio. I want our athletes to take part in international competitions,” she said.

She is looking to replace Dimitri Shlyakhtin when he retires from the role in November.

And finally…..

A couple of different “And finally” pieces this week, in that it’s two campaigns which my readers can get involved in. Firstly, there is a petition out there to try to get the international basketball governing body (Fiba) to allow Muslim players to play in a hijab. The petition was started by Asma Elbadawi, Sudanese player and coach who lives in West Yorkshire and argues that the hijab, turbans and other religious headwear pose no threat to the safety of players. FiFA has already removed its opposition to the wearing of such headwear. The petition has garnered 90,000 signatures so far. If you would like to sign it, here’s the link: https://www.change.org/p/fiba-federation-international-basketball-association-fiba-allow-hijab?source_location=movement

Another campaign underway is that to get netball into the Olympic Games. Netball has never even been a demonstration sport and it’s high time that it was included. Over 80 million people worldwide play the sport. The hashtag to follow on social media is #whynotnetball and again, if you would like to support this campaign by signing the petition, please follow the link: https://www.change.org/p/international-olympic-committee-include-netball-in-the-tokyo-2020-olympics