UK Sport Talk

Published 14 December 2015

Friday 18 December

Swimming: Ben Proud, Lizzie Simmonds and Imogen Clark broke British records on the opening day of the ASA National Swimming Championships (25m) in Sheffield.

Proud (Plymouth Leander) broke Mark Foster’s 15-year British short course record in the 50m Freestyle after touching in 20.74.

“I’m really pleased,” Proud said. “This morning I swam a 22 so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect tonight but I felt really fast and I was just trying to think about getting all the detail right.

“As soon as I nailed my turn, I knew it was going to be a fast swim but I didn’t think it would be sub 21 seconds.”

National Centre Bath swimmer, Lizzie Simmonds, swam to a new British record in the 100m Backstroke after touching the wall in 56.35.

Imogen Clark broke the oldest British short course record in the history books during the final of the 50m Breaststroke. The 16-year-old Derventio swimmer touched the wall in 30.02 to secure gold.

For more Info: British Swimming

Disability Table Tennis: Three GB players reached the finals of their respective singles events at the Copa Costa Rica Para Table Tennis competition in San Jose with Ashley Facey Thompson, Thomas Matthews and Martin Perry all winning silver medals and Billy Shilton taking bronze.

Facey Thompson progressed from his group in men’s class 9 with a 3-0 win over the higher ranked Nigerian Francis Chukwuemeka and a 3-0 win over the French World number 13 Frederic Bellais took him into the semi-final against Dezso Bereczki. The 20 year old Londoner received a walkover into the final when the Hungarian withdrew and he found the World number two Iurii Nozdrunov from Russia on top form in a 3-0 loss.

“I feel I played well,” said Facey Thompson. “To beat Bellais in the quarters was very good and I’m proud of that. In the final my level was not as good and I need to be one step higher but my opponent was very good. I just have to play my table tennis, fight for every point and see what happens in the team event now.”

Matthews topped his group in men’s class 1 and received a bye into the semi-finals. A 3-1 defeat of the Russian Dmitry Lavrov took him into the final against the World number five Young Dae Joo but after winning the first set 11-2 the 23 year old Welshman began to feel the effects of the heat and was forced to retire with the Korean leading 2-1.

“I had a slow start to the competition but when I started playing my game I felt in control,” said Matthews. “I played well to fight back from 2-0 down against Keller in the group and I felt I played well in the semi-final and came out with a good win over Lavrov. In the final I started off really well, forcing my game on to Joo, but unfortunately as the game went on I over-heated and had to forfeit the match under doctor’s orders. But in a way I’m glad it happened because I've learnt a lot about myself again at this tournament and can now work on this to come back stronger in 2016.”

The competition continues with the team events which conclude on Saturday

For more info: BTTAD

Wednesday 16 December

Sailing: Fourteen aspiring Youth World Champions will represent Great Britain at the prestigious Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia from the 27 December – 3 January 2016. 

Following the RYA Youth Worlds Selection event held at Hayling Island Sailing Club, HISC, in August, 12 sailors were selected with the final two SL16 sailors joining the team in October. 

Flying the British flag in the windsurfing classes are the Wilson siblings, Daniel and Emma, from Christchurch, whilst in the Laser Radial class Britain will be represented by Hannah Brant and Daniel Whieley. 

Courtney Bilbrough, HISC, and Harriet Ward, HISC, are Britain’s girls’ 29er class hopefuls and the boys’ 29er team of George Tardrew, HISC, and Freddie Simes, Bewl Valley, will be looking to capitalise on their hard work throughout the season so far. 

EUROSAF silver medallists Jenny Cropley, Royal Lymington YC, and Emma Baker, Weird Wood, will be hoping to repeat their summer of success and finish on the podium in Malaysia.

Max Clapp and Ross Banham, Royal Southern YC, teamed up just over a year ago and have dominated the 420 class ever since, winning almost every UK event. 

The final two sailors to be selected for the British team were SL16 sailors James King, Brightlingsea, and Jack Butters, Parkstone YC. 

For more info: Royal Yachting Association

Triathlon: British Triathlon has confirmed squads of 22 triathletes and 15 paratriathletes making up it’s 2016 UK Sport Lottery Funded World Class Performance Programmes.

British Triathlon Performance Director, Brendan Purcell, commented: “We have a major focus on Rio’s Copacabana Beach next summer for the Olympic and Paralympic triathlon events, but this is also year zero of our Tokyo 2020 cycle.

“We have distinct groups of athletes now; those working towards Rio, and those looking further into the future. It’s exciting to be able to add someone like 17 year-old Ben Dijkstra to the programme alongside our Olympic athletes, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland."

In addition to Dijsktra, Leeds-based Heather Sellars has been added to the squad. The paratriathlon squad remains the same, with Stefan Hoggan having been added mid-way through the season and being confirmed as part of the squad for 2016. Matt Sharp and Aaron Harris will transition off the programme, but intend to continue to competing at the highest level.

Purcell added: “We’ve got a successful group of athletes, who are being supported by a very strong group of coaches and specialist practitioners. We’re really grateful for the support from UK Sport and everyone who buys a lottery ticket each week.”

For more info: British Triathlon

Rowing: The nation’s top rowers will face one of their sternest tests yet this weekend as the GB Rowing Team whittles down its potential Rio 2016 squad.

Olympic Champions Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, from Gloucestershire, and Yorkshire’s Andy T Hodge, coming back after a long lay-off, will be amongst those racing two consecutive time trials followed by side-by-side finals.

This trio of London gold medallists will race in a strong men’s pair field from which Gregory and Surbition’s Mohamed Sbihi are favourites to win.
Sbihi races at the weekend after a triumphant British Rowing Indoor Championships in which he smashed Sir Matt Pinsent’s 11 year old 2k indoor rowing record.

He talked of the emotion involved this weekend when he said: “"It is another important step towards Rio. The trials process is never fun - you are racing your teammates and friends - but it is important in making our team as strong as we can be for the summer. 

“Of course there is tension, every day that passes is moving closer and closer to Rio and everyone wants to get the best result possible to strengthen their chance of going to Rio."

The scene is also set for a top-line tussle in the open women’s single scull between Wrexham’s Vicky Thornley, winner of the last two GB trials, returning Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins, from Leek, and her 2012 title-winning partner Katherine Grainger, from Glasgow, as well as challengers like London’s Melanie Wilson.

Thornley summed up the tension when she said: “There is so much more at stake this season, the Olympics is what we do this all for. It's very important that I bring my best at every trial to put myself in the best position to be in a boat with the best chance of a medal”.

For more info: GB Rowing Team

Monday 14 December

Badminton: Top English pair Chris and Gabby Adcock aim to use their brilliant World Superseries Finals success as a springboard for more titles in 2016.

The married couple’s mixed doubles victory on Sunday over high-flying South Korean pair, Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na, was their second Superseries win and the Adcocks’ run left them contemplating where their win in the tour's flagship event stood in their career to date, having won the Commonwealth title last summer.

Chris said: “It very hard to say! Glasgow meant a lot, however I think in terms of badminton this was a whole different level. We couldn't be happier.”

“I think everything worked for us, from the coaching to the preparation and then on court," added Chris. "The combination of everything earned us our greatest win as a pair.”

The Adcocks, who currently sit in sixth place in the Race to Rio qualification standings, admitted that their solid form throughout 2015 held them in good stead as they searched for an elusive title win.

“We have had a very consistent year, which we are very proud of, but finally getting a win in the biggest event of the year is truly amazing,” added Gabby. “And we hope to use this win to springboard to more titles.”

For more info: Badminton England

Disability Table Tennis: The final competition that will count towards qualification for the table tennis events at next year’s Paralympic Games in Rio takes place this week in Costa Rica from December 16-19. 

The GB Para Table Tennis Team is sending four players to compete in the Copa Costa Rica in San Jose including Ashley Facey Thompson, Billy Shilton and Tom Matthews, who all still have a chance of qualifying for Rio.

“It will be very tough competition in Costa Rica,” said GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko, “as there are a number of very good players from other countries who will also be looking to achieve the results that will secure qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games.”

For more info: BTTAD

Athletics: Jonathan Davies won gold in the U23 men’s race as every member of the British Athletics’ team won medals and topped the medal table for the 13th consecutive year at the European Cross Country Championships in Hyères, France. 

Davies produced an inspired display to win the U23 men’s race as the squad also claimed Team Silver. He was in the leading pack for most of the race but over the final kilometre, a group of three pulled away from the field and the Birmingham-based athlete ignited a sprint finish to claim European gold.

Davies said: “I’m over the moon; I came in thinking I had a chance of winning but you never quite believe it.” 

The U23 and senior women’s team also claimed gold whilst Kate Avery, Harriet Knowles-Jones, the U23 men’s team and junior women’s team took silver. Finally, the senior and junior men’s team ensured an overall gold medal place for the team. 

For more info: British Athletics

Badminton: Chris and Gabby Adcock, England’s number one pairing, powered to the World Superseries Finals mixed doubles’ title on Sunday to secure a career-high win on the world tour and end 2015 on a brilliant high note.

The world number seven Adcocks, who had already created history by becoming the first English players to reach the season-ending final, overcame Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na, of South Korea, 21-14, 21-17 in 37 minutes after a dominant display at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

The husband and wife team’s win in the emirate – they also collected $84,000 after sharing the $1 million prize money on offer – was only the second Superseries title of their career after landing the Hong Kong Open in 2013.

“I am in shock and I can’t believe we won. I am overwhelmed with emotion. This is a very big win as the Korean pair have been good all year,” said Gabby. 

Chris added: “We have fought hard to put things right all week as there have been some really tough matches.”

For more info: Badminton England

Hockey: Great Britain put in a stylish performance to seal a 5-1 win and take seventh place after mixed results at the Hockey World League Final in Rosario, Argentina.

Crista Cullen said: "We must now go back and review and understand what happened. There was a culmination of errors as to why we didn't get a semi-final spot.

We need to be hard on ourselves and learn from the mistakes. Come Rio we must be on the right end of the scoreline."

Head coach Danny Kerry added: "The tournament as a whole has been a good experience. The critical game was the China game where we created lots of chances but the ball wouldn't go in. Against New Zealand,the first half was really disappointing and as a result we find ourselves playing for 7/8th place.

"We have built some good understandings among the younger players and I am very pleased with the way we played against Korea.

For more info: England Hockey

Rowing: Sir Matt Pinsent’s 11 year-old British record fell at the British Rowing Indoor Championships when World men’s eight Champion Mohamed Sbihi recorded 5:41.8 for the 2km open men’s ergo.

Olympic medalist and World men’s eight Champion Sbihi said of his performance, set at the Lee Valley Park Velodrome in London: “It’s a big record and it’s stood for quite a long time so I’m delighted to have broken it especially in the Olympic season”.

Record-breaking Sbihi, from Surbiton, concluded the day by saying: “It is a great atmosphere and a wonderful event here. It’s such a good place to have set the record. Indoor rowing is now a massive bit of our sport. The machines are the same in gyms around the world and it’s growing and growing”.

For more info: British Rowing

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