UK Sport Talk
Published 4 January 2016
Friday 8 January
Athletics: Mo Farah will make his first appearance on the cross country circuit in five years when he lines up in Great Edinburgh XCountry tomorrow at Holyrood Park.
The double Olympic, World and European champion will be looking to replicate his last outing in the mud when he won the event back in 2011. It was a clinical victory for Farah and he is hoping to get his 2016 campaign off to a flying start over the 8km course.
Farah said: “It’s going to play a big part. It’s important to start well this season and then I can analyse tomorrow where I am. Obviously the aim is to win the race and secondly see what I can come away with.
“As an athlete, when you’ve done a good spell of winter training, it’s important that you test yourself and race. It’s not just train, train, train, you train then you race and you get that feeling of where you are.”
It’s another huge year for Farah as he prepares to defend his 5000m and 10000m Olympic titles in Rio this summer and the 32 year old is determined to extend his stay on top of the podium in South America.
“If I could have four Olympic medals that would be incredible and that’s what drives me. London was incredible and I don’t think anything could top it, but two more would definitely make it close,” added Farah.
“Beijing (at the IAAF World Championships) was hard and the guys did test me but I was ready. I think it’s going to be a similar test in Rio later this year.”
For more info: British Athletics
Cycling: Great Britain Cycling Team’s Matt Gibson has withdrawn from the final round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series in Hong Kong due to illness.
Gibson will be replaced by Kian Emadi, who has recently transferred to the endurance squad having previously trained with the team on the sprint squad.
The event takes place at the Hong Kong Velodrome from 16-17 January.
For more info: British Cycling
Wednesday 6 January
Diving: World Champion Tom Daley has been named as best male European Diver by LEN at their annual awards.
The 2015 LEN Awards also saw Jack Laugher second in the male diver category and Rebecca Gallantree third in the female diver category.
Daley has enjoyed a strong 2015 with gold in the Team Event and bronze in the 10m Platform at the World Championships as well finishing second in the overall rankings for the FINA Diving World Series.
Laugher took further steps forwards in his development as a diver after winning three golds on the World Series circuit, finishing first in the overall rankings of the series and finishing his season off with two bronze medals at the World Championships in Kazan.
Gallantree backed up her performance at the 2014 Commonwealth Games with gold in the Team Event at the World Championships in Kazan after partnering with Tom Daley.
For more info: British Swimming
Cycling: British Cycling has named the riders that will represent the Great Britain Cycling Team at the final round of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong from 16-17 January.
The final major event before the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in London in March sees a strong squad selected, with Mark Cavendish picked to represent Great Britain on the track for the first time since the 2009 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Cavendish, who heads up a youthful men’s endurance squad with senior academy riders, Matt Gibson, Chris Latham, Oliver Wood and Germain Burton also travelling, will make his return in the omnium as he begins a year which he hopes will see him win the Olympic medal that has previously eluded him.
Cavendish said: “It will be my first world cup on the track for a lot of years I think so I’m looking forward to it.
"I’m used to doing more events at a world cup, the Madison, the scratch, and now just doing the omnium is a little bit different from what I’m used to, but I’m super looking forward to it.”
Laura Trott, Elinor Barker, Ciara Horne and Joanna Rowsell Shand all return after missing the second round of the series, and are joined by senior academy rider Emily Nelson, who rides in her second event at this level after making her debut in New Zealand. Katie Archibald misses out with a knee injury.
Full strength sprint squads will continue their hunt for Olympic qualification points with Becky James selected for back-to-back world cups alongside Katy Marchant and Jess Varnish, while three-time Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny heads up a men’s team that includes Philip Hindes, Callum Skinner and Matt Crampton.
For more info: British Cycling
Wheelchair Tennis: Great Britain’s wheelchair tennis players start 2016 having made history again after ending the Netherlands’ 15-year sole domination in the wheelchair tennis category of the European Tennis Trophy, Tennis Europe announced this week.
Great Britain and the Netherlands completed 2015 tied on 863 points, with the annual award being shared for the first time since a wheelchair tennis category was first introduced into the Tennis Europe calculations in 2001. Points are awarded according to final results at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup and the number of players a nation has in the top 50 of the men’s and women’s singles and doubles rankings and the top 20 of the quad singles and doubles rankings.
Great Britain made history at the 2015 World Team Cup, winning the men’s World Group for the very first time, while Great Britain won bronze in the women’s World Group. In total players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme won a total of 78 international singles and doubles titles in 2015.
“2015 was a fantastic year all round for British tennis and personally, being a part of history at the World Team Cup, winning my first Grand Slam titles and gaining my first world No. 1 senior ranking. It will be a season I will never forget and to start Paralympic year with this news will hopefully boost us again as we work towards Rio 2016,” said world No.5 Gordon Reid, who followed gold medal success at the World Team Cup by winning the men’s doubles at Roland Garros and the US Open, before victory at the Doubles Masters earned Reid the year-end world No. 1 men’s doubles ranking.
For more info: Wheelchair Tennis Foundation
Tuesday 5 January
Judo: David Stanley, 7th Dan, IJF A and Paralympic Referee has been selected to officiate at his third Paralympic Games as he gets ready to jet off to Rio in September.
The Kent local has been a referee at international level for 27 years with 15 of those as a Visually Impaired (VI) Judo ref. Having refereed at both the Athens and London Paralympic Games, alongside numerous European and World Championships, he brings a wealth of experience to the role.
“I feel very pleased to be selected for the Paralympics in Rio as this will be my third Paralympics for the VI Judo.
“I enjoy refereeing VI judo because the players are very skilled in the art of judo and show a lot of enthusiasm in what they do, under the pressure of lack of sight and in some cases being totally blind and also deaf at the same time.”
For more info: British Judo
Para-Archery: The countdown to Rio has started - and 13 of our top para archers are in Dubai, training in the kind of temperatures our Paralympic team will have to deal with in South America.
They will spend 10 days at a warm weather training camp before competing in the second Fazaa International Archery Competition in Dubai, a world-ranking event.
The archers taking part are: Jo Frith, Jess Stretton, Vicky Jenkins, John Walker, John Cavanagh, John Stubbs, Mikey Hall, Nathan MacQueen, Jodie Grinham, Steve Gill, Hazel Chaisty, Tania Nadarajah and Victoria Rumary. London silver medallist Mel Clarke was also invited but is unable to attend.
Archery GB's Paralympic Head Coach, Michael Peart, said: "The British para team is thrilled to be in Dubai. It is giving the squad a great opportunity to continue its training ready for the Rio Games this summer - and having the World class Fazaa International at the end of the camp is perfect."
For more info: Archery GB
Monday 4 January
Para-Swimming: The British Para-Swimming team has announced a strong team for the IPC Swimming European Open Championships which includes five athletes making their senior debut.
The competition, which takes place from 27 April – 8 May in Funchal, Madeira, will see Lewis White, Ellie Robinson, Michael Jones, Rebecca Redfern and Zara Mullooly making their international debuts while Bethany Firth will compete for the first time for Great Britain.
The 25-strong squad also sees Paralympic Champions Ollie Hynd, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Josef Craig teaming up with World Champions Tully Kearney and Hannah Russell taking on some of the best athletes in the world at the IPC Swimming European Open Championships.
For National Performance Director Chris Furber this is a great opportunity for valuable long course racing ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio.
“This is an exciting team of youth and experience,” Furber said. “More opportunities to race against international competitors is important as we move closer to the Paralympic Games.
“Having five athletes making their senior international debut is great and it’s going to be good to see them taking the step up to a new level. I know our more experienced athletes will be on hand whenever they need advice.
“For the likes of Ollie, Jessica-Jane and Jonathan the meet will give them the chance to race against some tough competition just four months out from the Games.”
For more info: British Swimming
Sailing: The 2015 Youth Sailing World Championships drew to a close on Sunday, 3 January, with the British Youth Sailing Team’s Emma Wilson and Daniel Whiteley winning silver and bronze medals respectively.
Following a consistent series, not placing outside the top four, Emma Wilson went into the final day of competition with a medal already in her pocket, but the colour was still to be determined. She was in with a shot of gold but silver was her realistic aim.
Wilson left the beach knowing exactly what she needed to do. and winning the final race in spectacular fashion confirmed the silver medal for the Christchurch sailor: “I have been pretty consistent throughout the competition so that helped me a lot going into the final day, I knew I could get silver and possibly even gold but that was a really big push so I just went to sail my own race.
Welsh sailor Daniel Whiteley came storming out of the blocks on the final day in the Laser Radial class, knowing that a medal was just within his grasp. Rounding the first mark at the top end of the fleet he could almost taste the medal and sailed to the front to win the race and eventually take the bronze.
“Today started out really well actually, I started the day in fifth and ended it in third so I got a medal which is what I came here to do and I’m really happy about that,” Whiteley explained. “I went out and won the race so I think that helped as everything fell into place with the Finnish boy and the American so I’m really pleased with how the day went,” he added.
RYA Youth Racing Manager, Mark Nicholls, echoed Ward’s words: “They have had a good regatta and should be pleased with themselves.
“They have been in that top ball-park all week and have made some good decisions. A couple of decisions didn’t go quite their way, but they have had a good result and done really well at this level.”
For more info: Royal Yachting Association