UK Sport Talk

Published 22 February 2016

2016 Getty Images

Disability Table Tennis: The GB Para Table Tennis Team is preparing for this year’s Paralympic Games in Rio but is already looking towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo with two Talent Recruitment Days next month in Cardiff (March 12) and Plymouth (March 13)

These events provide a free opportunity for any disabled person to come and take part in an introduction to table tennis session. Para table tennis includes classes for a wide range of disabilities, both ambulant and wheelchair-bound athletes, as well as those with learning difficulties and is one of the most inclusive of the Paralympic sports.

Since taking four medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games the GB team has gone from strength to strength. It enjoyed its most successful ever European Championships last year with 11 medals and now boasts two current World number ones in World champion Will Bayley and double European champion Rob Davies among its brightest prospects for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. 

In addition to a 14-strong Performance Squad the team now has thriving Pathway and Development Squads bringing on young players and introducing them to International competition. Among the athletes that have come through the Pathway Squad are 17 year old Billy Shilton and 16 year old Megan Shackleton, who both won European medals in their first major championship last year.

“We have a very talented GB squad,” said GB Pathway and Development Coach Shaun Marples, “but we are always planning for the future. At these Talent Recruitment Days we are looking for anybody who shows potential to be the next Paralympic star and once they have been identified we can assist in signposting them to their nearest club and begin their training.”

The event in Cardiff runs from 11.00am - 3.00pm on Saturday, March 12 at the Welsh Institute of Sport and the event in Plymouth runs from 11.00am - 2.00pm at Eggbuckland College. 

For more info: BTTAD

Diving: Grace Reid secured Great Britain’s 11th Rio 2016 Olympic quota place after reaching the semi-final in the 3m Springboard.

Reid finished in 14th place in the prelims with a total score of 298.05 points as she qualified for her first world level semi final. 

She was performing consistently throughout the rounds but saved her best for last when she scored 69.00 for her Front 2 1/2 Somersaults 1 Twists piked. 

In the men's 3m Springboard semi-final Freddie Woodward improved his position by four places as he finished in 14th place overall.

Woodward scored 76.50 for his Front 2 1/2 Someraults 2 Twists piked which was his best dive of the competition. He finished with a score of 412.40.

For more info: British Swimming

Sailing: The RYA Youth National Championships, held at the Welsh National Sailing Academy, Plas Heli, in April will see 350 of Britain’s top youth sailors gather for the chance to be crowned 2016 Youth National Champion in their respective classes. 

The Youth Nationals is the first stage in the selection process for the best young British sailors in the country to represent Great Britain at the Youth Sailing World Championships in Oman (27 December – 4 January). 

The Youth Sailing World Championships is the premier international youth sailing event in the world and a proven talent indicator, with past notable winners including multiple Olympic medallists Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Sarah Ayton. 

Following the annual British Youth Sailing performance review, the age for selection to the British Youth Sailing World Championship Team will revert back to the same as World Sailing’s restrictions, namely under 19 on 31 December 2016.

RYA Youth Racing Manager, Mark Nicholls explained the change: “Whilst the change to the age of selection for the team that represented us in Malaysia last year worked well and delivered many successful outcomes, including some really notable performances, there were also some unforeseen challenges. 

“This, coupled with the difficulty that can be experienced when preparing a younger age group of sailors for such a highly competitive international environment, meant that the RYA felt it would be sensible to fall in line with World Sailing’s age for selection.

“We will select our Youth Worlds Team based on performances at Class Worlds or Europeans in the summer, to confirm their ability to finish within the top eight in the World. This should also ease a congested calendar by not running a dedicated selection event and give some time back to the sailors. 

“The British Youth Sailing Team aims to produce sailors that are mentally and physically robust, excel under pressure and are non-dependent decision makers. We want fast sailors on the water that have passion, professionalism and a performance mindset. The change to the Youth Worlds age of selection meets these objectives.   

For more info: Royal Yachting Association

Athletics: Double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah gave the sell-out crowds at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix plenty to cheer about as he won the 3,000m.

The 32-year-old was cheered all the way at the city’s Emirates Arena as he took to the track in his only indoor meeting of the season, holding off a challenge from Kenya’s Augustine Choge as he crossed the line in 7:39.55.

“It was a messy race, it was quick to begin with, then it slowed down a bit,” admitted Farah.

“It's important not to think too much about times when you have a strong field like today. I've got a few cuts but that's racing, it happens. The most important thing was to win the race in front of the home crowd.”

There was another British win on the track as Sean Safo-Antwi powered home to victory in the men’s 60m clocking an impressive 6.56 seconds, just one hundredth of a second clear of the European Indoor champion Richard Kilty, with Adam Gemili fourth in 6.62.

“I knew I was in good shape and I knew I really wanted to win. I haven’t lost yet this season so I came with that mentality and my aim was to win,” said Safo-Antwi.

There was a British one-two-three in the women’s long jump as Lorraine Ugen moved up to fifth in the world rankings with a winning leap of 6.80m. World silver medallist Shara Proctor managed a best of 6.76m while Jazmin Sawyers finished third with 6.58m.

“I knew I needed the win today and perform well for the British crowd. I'm happy with my series in the second competition of the season, and I'm hoping to win in Sheffield. I'm hoping for a medal in Portland which would be a great confidence booster ahead of the Olympics,” said Ugen.

For more info: British Athletics 

Bobsleigh: Lamin Deen, Ben Simons, Bruce Tasker and Joel Fearon had been in fourth place overnight and looked to set to jump up the leaderboard until they derailed as they were moving to within a whisker of the gold medal spot. 

The crash saw them miss out on Run 4 but fellow Brits John Jackson, Brad Hall, John Baines and Andy Matthews continued their improvement across each heat to finish 11th overall.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing for those four guys to see things end that way but they are strong characters and I have no doubt they will bounce back from this and be better for it,” said GB Bobsleigh Performance Director, Gary Anderson.

“They have shown they are truly world-class and we need to make sure we remember that as we build towards the next Winter Olympics in two years’ time. They were on course to be within a tenth of a second of the leaders at the end of Run 3 and would have been ahead of the eventual gold medalists going into the final run.

“That realisation brings an added disappointment but that is the nature of elite sport and it is something everybody has to deal with at some point in their career.

Diving: Tom Daley and his new synchro partner Dan Goodfellow picked up an impressive bronze medal in the 10m Synchro on their way to securing the Olympic quota place at the FINA World Cup.

The world bronze medallist Daley and Goodfellow looked confident throughout the final as they sat in a quota place position throughout.

The Brits lay in a strong place after scoring 103.80 for their required dives and opened their optional round with Inward 3 ½ Somersaults tucked for a score of 80.64.

At the half way point the pair lay in third place just ahead of Canada but a Front 4 ½ Somersaults tucked that scored them 91.02 points saw them move into second place with one round to go.

They concluded the final with their Back 3 ½ Somersaults piked for a score of 84.24 to finish in third place overall with 446.40 points.

Germany’s Sascha Klein and Patrick Hausding took the silver with 448.44 points while China’s Aisen Chen and Yue Lin won gold with a total of 456.00.

In the 3m Springboard Freddie Woodward secured Great Britain’s Olympic quota place by reaching the semi-final in 18th place with a score of 393.40. Chris Mears just missed out after finishing in 21st place with 390.40 points.

For more info: British Swimming

Hockey: A late charge from Great Britain was not quite enough to prevent Danny Kerry’s side going down to a 3-2 defeat in the final test of the series against Australia. 

Trailing 3-0 going into the final quarter GB scored twice through Sophie Bray and Joie Leigh but they were unable to complete a stunning comeback as the clock ran out. Australia’s goals came from Georgina Morgan, Emily Smith and Grace Stewart and with the win the hosts took the six match series 2-1.

For more info: England Hockey

Table Tennis: The GB Para Table Tennis Team took five medals in the team events on the last day of the Lignano Master Open in Italy today to add to the six medals won in the singles earlier in the week. 

There were silver medals for Jack Hunter Spivey and his Norwegian partner Tommy Urhaug (men’s class 4-5), Jane Campbell and Sara Head (women’s class 2-3), Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill (men’s class 6) while Sue Gilroy and 16 year old Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4-5) and Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson (men’s class 8) picked up bronze medals.

For more info: BTTAD

Bobsleigh: Deas held her overnight position in Igls, Austria, eventually missing the top ten by five hundredths of a second, while Creighton went into Day 2 in 17th before being pipped to that place by just 0.01 seconds over four runs.

Hermann was a comfortable winner from home favourite Janine Flock, as Russia’s Elena Nikitina claimed bronze ahead of Switzerland’s Marina Gilardoni.
“It’s disappointing not be having been higher up the leaderboard but I’ve learnt a lot and I’ll still take plenty of positives into next week and next season,” said Deas, who was ranked fourth in the world ahead of the season’s showpiece.

“My start times were very consistent so that is something to be pleased with but I just didn’t quite have the speed I needed overall. Small margins make a big difference in this sport, especially on this track.

“These championships were part of the progression towards the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics in 2018 and, although I did really want to be challenging for a podium place here, it’s been a good season overall with my first World Cup win in Altenberg and a bronze in Lake Placid.”

Diving: Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow impressed in the final of the 10m Synchro final to win bronze and secure a quota place for the Olympic Games this summer.
Couch and Barrow qualified for the final in seventh place and knew they had to put in a consistent performance in the final. 

They scored 100.20 points at the end of their required dives and opened up the optional rounds with their Inward 3 1/2 Somersaults tucked and scored 64.32.
They saved their best until last as they secured 76.80 points for their Back 2 1/2 Somersaults 1 1/2 Twists piked and won bronze with an overall score of 308.82.
World bronze medallists Chris Mears and Jack Laugher finished in fourth place in the Men’s 3m Synchro with a score of 400.32. 

The pair qualified for the final in third place and were looking in a strong position through the final but dropped their Front 4 ½ Somersaults tuckedin the last round to move out of the medal places. The Brits already qualified the 3m Synchro Olympic quota place by winning bronze at the World Championships in 2015.

For more info: British Swimming

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