UK Sport Talk

Published 11 January 2016

2016 Getty Images

Friday 15 January

Cycling: Great Britain’s Laura Trott and Emily Nelson took the first medals of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong on Friday, with impressive rides in the scratch and points race after strong qualifying performances from Great Britain in the team events.

Just hours after qualifying fastest in the team pursuit alongside Joanna Rowsell Shand, Elinor Barker and Ciara Horne, Trott won the sprint for scratch race silver ahead of Quianyu Yang of China, with gold going to Belarus’ Marina Shmayaknova who lapped the field.

Olympic Senior Academy rider Emily Nelson scored strongly in the latter half of the 80-lap points race at the Hong Kong Velodrome to secure the bronze medal. The Lichfield rider amassed 11 points, behind gold medal winner Jolien d’Hoore (Belgium) and silver medallist Jasmin Glaesser of Canada.

"I didn't go into it thinking I would get anything so I'm very happy," said Nelson.

"It was quite a hard race actually - quite a lot of people went for all the sprints at the start so I just played it a bit clever, sat in there and then got the points in the last four sprints when everyone was absolutely dead."

The medals followed strong performances from Great Britain in the team pursuit and team sprint. After the women’s team pursuiters went fastest in qualifying to set up a first round ride against China, Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Matt Crampton did likewise in the men’s team sprint, Kenny producing a scorching 12.8 second lap two to secure a gold medal ride against Poland.

In the women’s team sprint Jess Varnish and Katy Marchant also qualified for Saturday’s gold final, second fastest in qualifying with a 33.496-second ride to will face Russia’s Daria Shmeleva and Anastasia Voinova.

For more info: British Cycling

Wednesday 13 January 

Amateur Boxing: The British Lionhearts has announced the boxers who will compete for Great Britain in Season VI of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) which begins next week. 

The squad is made-up of 30 boxers from GB Boxing's Podium and Podium Potential squads and eight overseas selections (in accordance with the regulations of WSB).

The contingent from GB Boxing includes all six of the medallists from last year's European Championships in Bulgaria when Great Britain delivered its best ever performance at that tournament returning with a gold for Joe Cordina, silver medals for Harvey Horn, Muhammad Ali, Qais Ashfaq and Pat McCormack and a bronze for Joshua Buatsi.

They are joined by the experienced pair of Joe Joyce and Antony Fowler, who both have Commonwealth Games golds and World Championship bronze medals to their name.

WSB provides a qualification route to Rio 2016 whereby a boxer that competes once in seasons 2015 and 2016 or twice in season 2016 will be eligible for selection by GB Boxing to compete at the WSB Olympic qualifying event in Sofia in May of this year.

Rob McCracken, GB Boxing's Performance Director and Head Coach of the British Lionhearts, said: "Competing in WSB is one of the qualification routes for Rio so this is a very important part of the GB Boxing squad's programme for 2016. 

"The format is slightly different to traditional Olympic-style boxing, however this is our third season in WSB, so we have more experience of the tournament which will provide valuable competition opportunities for the boxers as we move into the business end of the Olympic cycle."

For more info: GB Boxing

Cycling: It is almost seven years since Mark Cavendish last pulled on the Great Britain Cycling Team kit on the track on the world stage, but this weekend will see the Manxman make his long-awaited return at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong.

The 30-year-old made the full-time transition to road racing, winning rainbow stripes at the world championship and becoming the most successful sprinter in Tour de France history. But Cavendish says there’s still something missing.

“First and foremost, I’m a professional road rider. That’s how it is. My job is on the road, but I’d like an Olympic medal. 

Cavendish missed out in Beijing in 2008, finishing ninth in the Madison alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins. Such was his reputation on the road by London 2012, that other nations marked him as the ‘one to win’ and prevented him from claiming gold at his home Games. With the first South American Olympics on the horizon in Rio this summer, Cavendish will tackle the omnium in Hong Kong this weekend with only one target on his mind.

“I haven’t qualified for the Olympics yet, so I need to get points to qualify. As an endurance rider, I like the new format of the omnium, with the points race at the end. It plays into my strengths as a rider. I’ve been doing a lot of track training, a lot of specific stuff for the 250 and the timed events that can detriment that final points race, but hopefully I can get Olympic qualifying points and I’ll be in the contention for the Olympic Games and then we’ll see what we do from there.”

2016 is set to be another busy year for the Manx Missile, with his lofty track ambitions alongside his aims on the road. As well as targeting an Olympic medal and a rainbow jersey at the track world championships in London, Cavendish also wants to become world champion on the road once more with a win in Qatar this October, as well as to hold the Tour de France yellow jersey for the first time this summer.

For more info: British Cycling

Swimming: A squad of 34 British athletes will undertake their first overseas event of the Olympic year when they travel to Antwerp for the Flanders Cup next week.

The mixture of senior and juniors swimmers will take part in the Flanders Speedo Cup as they get the 2016 season up and running on 23-24 January.

Double World Champion James Guy will lead the British contingent as they continue their preparations towards the British Championships in April where qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games can be earned.

“The Flanders meet provides another strong opportunity as part of an important overall race strategy for our swimmers,” said British Swimming National Performance Director Chris Spice.

"These events allow us to practice our identified process goals that are important for progression this season.

“For the vast majority of the squad this will be their first hit out of the year while they’re very much still in the middle of a big block of training as they prepare to meet the goals that have been set for 2016.”

For more info: British Swimming

Tuesday 12 January

Sailing: Megan Pascoe rounded off a dominant display of racing to claim her first 2.4mR World Championship title in Hobart, Australia, this weekend. 

The 29-year-old secured the Open Worlds victory a day ahead of time, having amassed an unassailable lead ahead of the final scheduled day of competition on Sunday (10 January). 

But even with her world title confirmed before the final two races of the ten-race series, the Ardingly sailor still impressed on Sunday, and concluded her regatta counting four race wins and eight races inside the top three. 

“It’s pretty awesome!” admitted Portland-based Pascoe. “Going into Saturday’s race, I didn’t really think about the possibility that I could win a day early, but it’s fantastic that I did.” 

“We now have two World Champions in the family – both in January and both in Australian venues, so it must be something about the month and the year! 

For more info: Royal Yachting Association

Archery: Forty-nine British archers are busy preparing for stage three of the Indoor World Archery Cup, which is being held in Nimes this weekend.

The action starts on Friday and runs through to the medal matches on Sunday with the recurve and compound finals streamed live by World Archery.

For more info: Archery GB

Modern Pentathlon: Jamie Cooke made it two wins from two at this weekend’s second National Ranking Competition, with London 2012 silver medalist Samantha Murray coming out on top in the Women’s event. Both athletes provided convincing performances on the day as they led the entire competition from start to finish.

Cooke registered the quickest time in the pool of 2:01.78, with teammates Joe Choong, Luke Tasker, Tom Toolis and Sam Curry closely following as the top 5 were separated by less than four seconds. He then followed this up by coming out on top in the fencing, winning 24 of his 30 bouts, 6 more than second placed Toolis.

For more info: Pentathlon GB

Athletics: Britain’s current Olympic and world heptathlon champion will continue her countdown to Rio in the 60m hurdles at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix - the world’s number one indoor athletics event. 

Jessica Ennis-Hill has confirmed that she will compete at the sold out Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix at the 5,000 seat Emirates Arena on Saturday 20 February.

The Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix will feature many of the world’s best athletes, including Britain’s other gold medal winners from ‘Super Saturday’ at the London 2012 Olympics, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. 

Ennis-Hill has a great record in the 60m hurdles in Glasgow, setting a personal best in 2008, a British record of 7.95 in 2010 and then taking victory in 2011.

She said: “I am really looking forward to competing in the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix – this fixture always kick-starts my year. Training is going well and it will be good to get out there and compete with some great athletes and really test myself. Olympic year is a big year for all of us and the first competition brings with it trepidation and excitement.”

The Indoor Grand Prix, ranked as the world’s best indoor event in the world for the past ten years, will be held in Glasgow for the first time in 2016 as the city alternates hosting the event with Birmingham up to 2020.

Niels de Vos, Chief Executive of British Athletics, said: “Jessica Ennis-Hill is one of the biggest stars in British sport. The Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix will provide her with an opportunity to test herself and we wish her every success in Olympic year. She is a winner and a tremendous role-model for athletics and for Britain. The Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix will again showcase the city’s passion for major athletics events and is a sold-out success.”

For more info: British Athletics

Cycling: The last round of the 2015/16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup will see 17 Great Britain Cycling Team riders travel to Hong Kong on 16-17 January for another chance to score qualification points towards the world championships and the Olympic Games.

Top stars including Mark Cavendish, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny head up the team that hopes to lay down a final marker at the Tseung Kwan O venue before returning to Britain to prepare for the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in London in March.

The Hong Kong Velodrome is situated in Tseung Kwan O and is owned by the Hong Kong government. The velodrome was built following Wong Kam-po’s victory in the road race at the 2006 Asian Games, foregrounding the requirement for a proper training base for Hong Kong’s riders.

Team pursuit qualifying (men and women), Team sprint qualifying (men and women), Points (men and women) and Scratch (men and women) will take place on Friday the 15th with the Team pursuit (men’s and women’s finals), Team sprint (men’s and women’s finals), Omnium (men and women, events 1-3), Women’s sprint and Men’s keirin occurring on Saturday the 17th. Proceedings will be rounded off on Sunday the 18th with the Men’s sprint, Omnium (men’s and womens, events 4-6) and Women’s keirin.

For more info: British Cycling

Monday 11 January 

Athletics: It was a table-topping performance for the British team at the Great Edinburgh XCountry claiming three individual victories on a day which saw Mo Farah return to Cross Country action with a second place finish.

Farah, who was returning to the scene of his last race on the cross country circuit five years ago, was unable to follow up his 2011 performance finishing two seconds behind USA’s Garrett Heath. In the last race of the day, conditions proved difficult underfoot with Farah and a number of other athletes suffering near misses as they struggled around the muddy bends.

Afterwards Farah said: “It was tough, but that’s cross country, it’s what you get. Garrett was the better man on the course today and he showed that. He proved that – he was bouncing off the ground quicker.

“There were a couple of times I nearly went and you could see with the corners that when you’re comfortable you can run off it, but I just wasn’t that comfortable.

“I don’t want to lose a race, I hate losing but it’s better to lose now than in August. Garrett’s shown year after year winning on this course and he was the better athlete over the course.”

Following close behind Farah was Callum Hawkins Ross Millington, Dewi Griffiths and Andrew Butchart, who occupied place four to seven.

After winning her second successive silver at the European Cross Country Championships, Kate Avery blew away the field in the senior women’s race to continue her preparations for qualification for this summer’s Olympic Games. Avery’s teammate Gemma Steel and Charlotte Arter came through in third place and fifth place respectively to give the team valuable points in the standings.

After finishing fifth in the junior race at the European Cross Country Championships in December, Bobby Clay was pleased to that her personal disappointment behind her in Holyrood Park. After winning the 2014 edition of the race, Clay was back to winning ways with a commanding performance, which saw her take the race out from the front. Finishing behind the 18 year old was Harriett Knowles-Jones, who matched her second place finish from Hyeres in what has been a strong start to her winter season.

For more info: British Athletics

Cycling: Great Britain Cycling Team rider Victoria Williamson is in a stable condition after receiving fractures to her pelvis and several vertebrae in a crash at the Rotterdam Six-Day last night.

The 22-year-old, who has undergone surgery and MRI scans, also sustained a cut to her right flank in the crash with Holland's Elis Ligtlee in a sprint heat. She will remain in hospital in Rotterdam for the next few days while doctors assess her condition.

Great Britain Cycling Team sprint coach Justin Grace said: "Victoria is being very well looked after here in Rotterdam and the well-wishes people have been sending her are very much appreciated.

"She gave us all a scare last night and while her injuries are serious they are not life-threatening.

"From a performance point of view this is another injury to deal with - Victoria has a long road to recovery ahead of her but her health is the highest priority for the whole team and we'll make sure she receives the best possible care."

For more info: British Cycling

Bobsleigh: Watching a trio of Union flags raised high above a medal podium is the ultimate aim for most British national teams but for Great Britain’s youth bobsleigh squad that dream became a reality this weekend.

The nation’s best young female bobsledders finished the qualifying races for next month’s Winter Youth Olympics as No1, 2 and 3 in the world to ensure red, white and blue dominated the skyline in St Moritz, Switzerland on Saturday.

Kelsea Purchall, Annabel Chaffey and Aimee Davey have seen off all comers throughout a series of seven races across Europe and North America and their success has been all but mirrored by the boy’s team of George Johnston, Ed Himbury and Adam Hames.

Johnston matched Purchall in ending the qualifiers as the world’s best, with Himbury not far behind in third and Hames fourth as GB won close to half the 42 medals on offer.

“One thing I’ve dreamt of my whole sporting career is to see three Union flags raised on a medal podium. And that dream has now become a reality,” said Great Britain Bobsleigh Performance Director, Gary Anderson.

For more info: The BBSA

Skeleton: Laura Deas claimed bronze for Great Britain at the first World Cup skeleton race of 2016 in Lake Placid, USA on Friday afternoon.

Deas, who won the season opener in Altenberg in late November and was third in the IBSF World Rankings at the end of 2015, finished in 1 minute 50.59 seconds in New York state.

The 27-year-old shared the lead at the end of the first run after clocking a time of 55.16 seconds but she was pipped to gold by Annie O’Shea on the American’s home track.

Switzerland’s Marina Gilardoni broke the track’s start record to seal silver, with Germany’s overall World Cup leader Tina Hermann finishing fourth in the first event outside her homeland this season.

The results see Deas stay third in the World Rankings but she is now just 19 points behind second-placed Jacqueline Loelling after the German finished eighth, nearly a full second back from her British rival.

There was also plenty to smile about for GB’s Donna Creighton as she secured her first top 10 placing of the season with a strong showing that saw her sit fourth after the end of the first heat. Creighton jumps up to 12th in the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation Standings after clocking runs of 55.50 and 56.10, with only four other athletes - including all three medalists - faster than her at the top of the track.

For more info: The BBSA

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