UK Sport Talk

Published 18 January 2016

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Judo: Ten British judoka are in action this weekend in Cuba at the 2016 Havana Grand Prix from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 January.

With up to 300 Olympic qualifying points on offer the competition is sure to be of a high standard across the three days.

On Friday 22 Kelly Edwards (-52kg) and Ashley McKenzie (-60kg) will be stepping on the tatami.

Edwards, who came fifth in two Grand Prix tournaments last year, will face Laura Gomez (ESP) in her opening contest.

Ashley McKenzie, a former Havana Grand Prix medallist, goes up against Canada’s Sergio Pessoa in his first contest.

Three more Brits will be going for gold on Saturday with Megan Fletcher (-70kg) looking to back up some strong form at the back end of 2015 as she takes on Roxane Taeymans (BEL).

Patrick Dawson (-73kg) faces Jaromir Jezek (CZE) while Owen Livesey (-81kg) will be hoping to improve on his fifth place finish at the Jeju Grand Prix last year as he fights Carlos Luz (POR) in the first round.

Gemma Gibbons (-78kg) and Natalie Powell (-78kg) will continue their push for a Rio spot on Sunday as will Sarah Adlington (+78kg), Frazer Chamberlain (-90kg) and Ben Fletcher (-100kg).

For more info: British Judo

Wheelchair-Tennis: Andy Lapthorne and Gordon Reid booked their places in the quad singles and men’s singles finals on the penultimate day of play at the Melbourne Open as Louise Hunt advanced to the women’s doubles final partnering South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane.

Lapthorne, who finished runner-up to Australian world No.1 Dylan Alcott at last week’s Sydney Open Super Series, ended Alcott’s unbeaten sequence of six matches this season to win their quad singles final 7-6(4), 6-3 at the ITF 2 event, the final tournament before the Australian Open.

World No.4 Lapthorne will now play South Africa’s world No.3 Lucas Sithole in Thursday’s final, having beaten Sithole in the semi-finals in Sydney last week. Second seed Sithole thwarted hopes of an all-British final with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Antony Cotterill in the other semi-final.

Reid also reached his second successive men’s singles final in Australia after the world No.5 beat second seed Joachim Gerard of Belgium 7-6(7), 6-2. Runner-up to world No.3 Nicolas Peifer in Sydney, Reid faces world No.1 Shingo Kunieda in the final in Melbourne after Kunieda defeated Peifer in his semi-final.

Cotterill and Lapthorne will play Sithole and Australian Heath Davidson in Thursday’s decisive round-robin match for the quad doubles title.

However, another doubles final eluded Reid and Alfie Hewett, who were edged out in their men’s doubles semi-final against Gustavo Fernandez and Gerard 6-4, 6-4.

For more info: Tennis Foundation

Diving: The best of British Diving travel to Southend this week ready to show their true potential as they battle for honours at the British National Diving Cup from 22 – 24 Jan. 

With selection to the LEN European Championships and the FINA World Cup up for grabs competition will be tight and world medallists Tom Daley, Jack Laugher, Rebecca Gallantree and Chris Mears will be ready to showcase the hard work undertaken through the winter. 

The British National Diving Cup will see two new pairs debuting in the men’s and women’s 10m Synchro as Daley teams up with Daniel Goodfellow and Tonia Couch will dive with Lois Toulson. 

At the 2015 World Championships Great Britain qualified four individual quota places and one synchro quota place for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the remaining Olympic places will be up for grabs at the FINA World Cup next month.

The British National Diving Cup will allow National Performance Director Alexei Evangulov to see where the athletes are at this early stage of the season.

“The British National Diving Cup is a going to be a strong competition and a good opportunity to see where the athletes are ahead of what will be a busy year,” Evangulov said. 

“I’m excited to see our divers in a competition format again after a solid block of winter training. I know all of the athletes have been working really hard and they will show their development at the weekend. 

“We have two new synchro pairs and I have been happy with how they have trained together. It’s a good test to see them in competition at the National Cup but I have confidence that they will compete well and impress the judges.”

For more: British Swimming

Badminton: Toby Penty has already beaten the reigning English men’s singles champion this season and now he has his eyes firmly set on taking Sam Parsons’ title at next month’s English National Badminton Championships in Derby.

Penty will head to the University of Derby Sports Centre in less than three weeks time ranked second in the country and full of confidence that he has a chance of taking the top prize.

But the 23-year-old knows he may have to overcome seven time national champion Ouseph if he is to walk away as the 2016 champion.

“I don’t think I am a million miles away from being the UK’s number one” Penty said. “Rajiv Ouseph has been there for some time and deservedly so, but I am trying my best to catch up with him”.

“I have come up short a couple of times at the National Championships and not made the final so I am hoping to do that this time around” said Penty.

“I am playing well at the moment and I know I have it in me so I am looking forward to seeing how I get on. Getting through to Sunday (the final) is the main thing.”

“I have beaten Sam Parsons, who was the national champion last year, I have beaten Eric Pang, who made the quarter-finals of the World Championships, so I have been playing well and I am beating very good players.

“I think I am showing the level I can play at.”

For more info: England Badminton

Athletics: Kate Avery and Andrew Butchart were the highest placed Brits at the Antrim International which incorporated the third leg of the British Athletics Cross Challenge.

Avery returned to the cross country scene a week after racing to victory at the Great Edinburgh X Country. However, she admitted to struggling more on the muddy sections of the course in comparison to the other leading athletes on the day but still finished a credible fourth place in a high quality senior women’s field.

Avery said: “The ground was a lot worse than Edinburgh last week. However, I think I performed well today as I beat some really good girls. I am not sure about my next cross country race, but my priority is obviously Rio for the 10,000m.”

Butchart commented afterwards: “I am really happy with that run and I worked hard against some of the best runners in the world. I consider my performances over the past eight days to be very good (He finished 7th in Edinburgh).

“It is nice to come to Ireland and repeat my Edinburgh performance. I was very impressed with the support here.”

For more info: British Athletics

Cycling: Olympic champion Laura Trott won gold in the omnium on the final day of the 2015/16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong on Sunday in an impressive battle with long-term rival Sarah Hammer.

Trott’s win, along with bronze for Jason Kenny in the men’s sprint, helped to seal overall victory for Great Britain in both the event and the 2015/16 world cup series.

The decisive points race saw Hammer and Trott track each other for the first four sprints and it wasn’t until sprint five that they showed their faces, the American gaining a point on the Briton.

Sprint seven saw Hammer and Berthon gain ground but barring a lap gain it was too little too late. Come the penultimate sprint Hammer and Trott jumped off the front, Trott marking her opponent and overtaking on the line.

The 23-year-old from Harlow stamped her superiority at the final sprint, chasing down the late escapees to extend her winning margin and send out a strong message to her opponents with the world championships approaching.

“I think this track, because it's quite grippy, I think it took the steam out of everybody and it ended up just being a race where you could just follow and sit in a lot more,” said Trott.

“I've really enjoyed it actually - I wasn't looking forward to the points race - after three days doing the team pursuit as well yesterday it really did take it out of me and I was worried how I was going to feel,” Trott continued.

“With 20 laps to go because I'd already won I was like 'should I just attack' but it kind of left me on the back foot.

“So I thought, ‘I best just to get to the finish’ and I guess that's what I did."

For more info: British Cycling

Taekwondo: Mahama Cho was the toast of Turkey for GB Taekwondo on Sunday after confirming a spot in the men’s heavyweight competition at this summer’s Rio Olympic Games.

Needing to reach the +80kg weight division final to guarantee the place, the ‘Stockwell Slayer’ went one better by winning the European qualification tournament.

Cho must wait to discover if he will be Team GB’s +80kg nomination but there will now be four medal opportunities for the Manchester trained squad in South America.

London 2012 gold medallist, Jade Jones, World Champion, Bianca Walkden, and Lutalo Muhammad, a winner of last month’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix final series in Mexico, had already secured qualification for the -57kg, +67kg and -80kg weight categories.

“It feels absolutely fantastic-now the real work starts,” said Happy Cho. “But I’ve received so many messages and I’m overwhelmed with how much support I have had.

“It’s a blessing to have so many people behind me and that will make all of the difference when it comes to the Olympic Games in Rio.”

“It was a great performance by Cho,” said GB Taekwondo Performance Director, Gary Hall. 

“There was a lot of pressure on him but we were always confident he would justify the selectors’ faith in him.”

For more info: GB Taekwondo

Cycling: Phil Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner won Great Britain’s first gold medal of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Hong Kong on Saturday after the squad won medals in the men’s team pursuit, women’s team pursuit and women’s team sprint.

After qualifying fastest on Friday, Matt Crampton was swapped out of the men’s team sprint to concentrate on keirin duties with Callum Skinner replacing him in man three and the trio went on to produce a 43.751-second ride to defeat Poland’s Maciej Bielecki, Mateusz Lipa and Kami Kuczynski.

"Really happy with that," said Kenny. "Getting a couple of second rides in and having the confidence to change team and still perform with a different line-up."

"I think we've clinched the world cup leaders' jersey so it's a really good sign of consistency through the season," said Skinner. 

Man one Hindes added: "It seems like every world cup we're doing we're getting better so it's a good sign for Rio."

For more info: British Cycling

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