UK Sport Talk

Published 16 November 2015

Friday 20 November 

Rowing: Helen Glover and Heather Stanning have been named as World Female Crew of the Year by rowing’s international federation, FISA.

The Olympic Champions were shortlisted for the Award through a public nomination process before being chosen by a vote of the FISA Council. 

In 2015, the GB Rowing Team women’s pair were crowned World and European Champions as well as overall World Cup winners during another unbeaten season.

Stanning said: “It goes without saying that we are extremely proud of this Award. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work in training but also from the people around us – our coach Robin Williams and the whole of the GB Rowing Team support staff.”

Glover said: “We feel very humbled to receive such a global accolade. I’d like to thank everyone who helped us make this possible. Thank-you, FISA, for this recognition. We now want to drive on in training every day to continue to improve and be the best we can be in the Olympic season ahead.”

British Rowing Chief Executive, Andy Parkinson, said: “Helen and Heather are not only successful athletes but are superb role models for a whole generation of young people. As a sport we are delighted that they have won this award, and received the international recognition that they deserve after a fantastic season.”

For more info: British Rowing

Wheelchair Tennis: Gordon Reid, Jordanne Whiley and Andy Lapthorne, 2014 finalists at the Nottingham Indoor Wheelchair Tennis Tournament, got their singles challenges underway in style on the second day of this year’s tournament at Nottingham Tennis Centre. 

Fourth seed Reid, who is aiming for his fourth Nottingham Indoor men’s title, eased past Frederic Cattaneo of France 6-2, 6-1 to set up a quarter-final against 2012 champion Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands. Reigning champion Reid and 2012 champion Scheffers have met in three of the last four Nottingham Indoor finals. 

“It was a good first match for me and great to get out there and get a feel for the courts. It was certainly good preparation for the rest of the tournament and I’m looking forward to what’s next now the first win is under my belt,” said Reid, one of six men’s players and one of 13 players in total in Nottingham who are preparing for the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in London on 2-6 December.

World No. 4 and US Open champion Whiley and world No.7 Lucy Shuker are on course for a potential all-Brit women’s singles semi-final after both beat fellow Brits in their opening matches. Whiley beat Lauren Jones 6-1, 6-0 to book a quarter-final against Brazil’s Natalia Mayara, with Shuker defeating Val Fisher 6-0, 6-1 ahead of meeting Germany’s Katharina Kruger.

“It’s great to be back in Nottingham and extend my winning run here this season after winning the British Open. Playing a fellow Brit in the first round can sometimes be tricky, but I always felt in control today and I’m glad to get the first win out the way and can move on,” said Whiley.

For more info: Tennis Foundation

Sailing: Finn World Champion Giles Scott is hoping to round off a long 2015 season with a successful title defence at the Finn Gold Cup, which gets underway in Takapuna, New Zealand, on Tuesday, 24 November.

Scott will be aiming for a third world title to add to his 2014 and 2011 victories, but with national and individual Olympic qualifying berths at stake across the 28 nations set to compete, the Briton knows he’ll face a tough battle if he’s to keep his hands on the coveted Gold Cup when the regatta draws to a close on 29 November.

Scott’s own 2016 Olympic berth was confirmed in September, and the 28-year-old wants to build on his winning run by way of preparation towards the Rio Games.

“The Gold Cup is the event that any Finn sailor wants to win every year and this year is certainly no different, especially being a year out from the Games,” Scott remarked.

“It will arguably be the strongest fleet of the cycle and will be a very tough-fought week for sure. I’m excited to get the racing underway and hopefully Takapuna can bring some good racing conditions for us.”

For more info: Royal Yachting Association

Weightlifting: The schedule for the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships has been announced, placing both Commonwealth Games gold medallist Zoe Smith and 16 year old European Youth Champion Rebekah Tiler in the top ranking category for the women’s 63kg class.

Billed as the biggest World Championships to date, Houston 2015 will see over 600 athletes from the 98 affiliated nations participate from November 20-28; the competition will also play a significant part in the qualification process for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

English champion Jack Oliver will be the first to lift for British Weight Lifting, competing in the 77kg category at 14:30 (GMT) on Monday 23rd November.

Speaking ahead of the competition, Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO, said: “To have two British athletes qualify for the same top ranked category in what will be one of the biggest World Championships to date is a fantastic achievement and testament to the form of both Zoe and Rebekah heading into the competition.

“At just 16 years of age, Rebekah will undoubtedly gain fantastic experience from lifting alongside the best in the world, boosted by the rivalry with teammate Zoe; all our athletes have trained fastidiously in advance of the Championships and we go into the event with hopes of fantastic performances across the seven-strong team.”

For more info: British Weightlifting

Thursday 19 November

Sailing: Alison Young is targeting a medal at the 2015 Laser Radial World Championships in Oman.

Al Mussanah will welcome over 100 of the best female single-handed racers in the world for the championships from 20-27 November and 2012 Olympian Young wants to have her name at the top of results board by the end of the week.

Young is the first to admit that this year has been hard but the Worlds is her final test of 2015 and she has a point to prove: “It's not been a great year so far but I'm aiming to medal at the Worlds.

“We've been focussing on a couple of areas since the test event, which at the moment are a bit of a work in progress, so the Worlds will be a reality check to see if we're back on track.”

Young is already selected for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games so the pressure is off for qualifying, however this will not stop her performing to her best. 

Qualifying starts tomorrow (20 November) through to Sunday, followed by a rest day on Monday before the fleets split into gold and silver groups for the final series. Racing concludes next Thursday (26 November).

For more info: Royal Yachting Association

Diving: Britain’s best divers will arrive in Sheffield next summer with their only aim to secure their place on the plane to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games. 

The British Diving Championships 2016 will take place at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre from 10 -12 June and will see Olympic nominations up for grabs. 

The British Diving Team secured five Olympic quota places at the World Championships in July 2015 and will be aiming to secure more berths at the World Cup in February. 

National Performance Director Alexei Evangulov is excited to return to Sheffield and will have high expectations for the level of competition on show. 

“Sheffield is a great pool that has showcased some of the best competitions we have hosted and I look forward to bringing the very best level of competition back to Yorkshire,” Evangulov said. 

“This is an important competition for athletes on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and I know this will bring out the very best performances from our athletes. The competition will be exciting with a high standard and I know we will have a strong team once this meet is finished.” 

Find out more: British Swimming

Wednesday 18 November 

VI JudoBritish Judo have named their squad for the IBSA European Judo Championships in Odivelas, Portugal later this month.

The squad includes judoka who have medalled at Paralympic, World, European and Grand Prix competitions: Natalie Greenhough, Sam Ingram, Chris Skelley and Jack Hodgson.

The European Championships are the final qualifying competition for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and three of the four strong team are currently sitting in qualifying position going into the competition. 

Paralympic head coach Ian Johns is confident of success in Portugal: "The team have prepared very well for the Europeans including a couple of training camps in Belo Horizonte and Scotland. Each member of the team has medalled this year and we’re confident they can go out to Portugal and, if they put in the performances, come away with medals."

Find out more: British Judo

Cycling: Two-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome’s 2016 season will officially get underway at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia from 3-7 February. 

2016 could prove to be an historic year for Froome with a third Tour de France title tilt as well as the Olympics in Rio. 

It will be the first time that Team Sky has competed at the event and Froome says he is looking forward to competing in the warmer environment. 

"I'm really pleased to start my 2016 season at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, said Froome. Victoria is a beautiful part of the world and racing in the warm climate will give me a good platform for the new season,” he added. 

For more info: Sky Sports

Tuesday 17 November 

Tennis: Leon Smith has named the Aegon GB tennis team to contest the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final with Belgium. 

Andy Murray, James Ward, Kyle Edmund, Jamie Murray and Dom Inglot will travel to Ghent in pursuit of the famous trophy next Friday, 27th November. 

It will be the first time in 37 years that a Great Britain squad has contested the Davis Cup final.  

Team captain Leon Smith said: “Our GB Davis Cup team is proud to be competing in the Final in Ghent this year. It is a historic ‎moment in British Tennis and I'm delighted to name these five players for the tie against Belgium.

“The team has had some incredible results this year, and we know that off the back of defeating the three other Grand Slam nations we carry great momentum going into the final, however we will ‎not underestimate the challenge in front of us. The Belgian team is full of top 100 talent and they will push us all the way." he added.

For more info: Lawn Tennis Association

Monday 16 November

Hockey: Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry has named the 18 athletes to compete in the FIH World League Final in Rosario. Kerry has made three changes to the squad who competed in the World League Semi-Final in June, a competition where Great Britain secured their qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio. 

Kerry has opted to bring in three players for the World League Final, two of whom - Sam Quek and Ashleigh Ball - won gold medals with England at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in August. The third player to come in is London 2012 Bronze medallist Crista Cullen.

Cullen, who has 171 international caps, stepped away from hockey after the 2012 Olympics but made a return to the Great Britain training squad in October 2015. The World League Final will be her first tournament since her return.

Danny Kerry said: “It has been a difficult selection as we will leave behind a number of athletes that could easily swap in for those selected. This is testament to the strength we have in depth in this Olympic cycle.

“There will understandably be media interest in Crista Cullen’s selection. Fundamentally the test series and tournament provides Crista with an opportunity to get some much needed match play after only completing two practice internationals (against USA in October) since her last outing at the London Olympic Games. Crista has returned to the GB programme in great physical shape and now needs exposure to high standard international match play.

“As a squad we will meet before departure to discuss and agree our objectives given the opportunities in front of us. As ever we will take a game by game approach and have faith in our preparation. This approach has served us well through 2015 and we will continue to build toward Rio and beyond.”

Find out more: GB Hockey

Para-Rowing: Guildford’s Rachel Morris topped the lists at today’s nine-boat GB Rowing Team para-rowing assessment trials at the national training centre near Reading.

The arms-only single sculler, who won silver at the 2015 Worlds, came home in a time that equated to 94.9% of the predicted Rio 2016 gold medal time. Her performance came in the teeth of conditions that were on the cusp of rowable.

“Rachel was really exceptional today and raced superbly.  She probably had the worst of the conditions, too”, said the GB Rowing Team lead para-rowing coach, Tom Dyson.

Morris transferred from hand-cycling to rowing as recently as late 2013, having won Paralympic gold at Beijing 2008 in her previous sport.

Today she topped a list which saw Laurence Whiteley, of Northallerton, from the 2015 Worlds silver medal trunk-arms double scull, come in second at 92.6% of the predicted gold standard.  HIs double scull partner, Lauren Rowles, still only 17 and a recent convert from wheelchair track racing, was fourth.

Find out more: British Rowing

Disability Table-Tennis: The GB Para Table Tennis Team is sending five players to compete in the PTT China Open in Beijing this week (November 20-24). It will be one of the last events that will count towards qualification for next year’s Paralympic Games.

World silver medalist Sue Gilroy will be joined by London 2012 team bronze medalist Aaron McKibbin, Kim Daybell, Jack Hunter-Spivey and Billy Shilton.

“Qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games finishes at the end of this year,” said GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko, “and competing in China will give the athletes valuable experience as well as providing them with an opportunity to improve their world ranking and their chances of competing in Rio.”

Find out more: BTTAD

Para-Cycling On the final day of the Manchester Para-cycling International the Great Britain Cycling Team picked up a further 11 medals which resulted in a total of 23 overall and first place in the medals table. 

The pairings of Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott, and Neil Fachie and Pete Mitchell achieved their second gold medals of the tournament. 

Sophie said: “We came into here with a bit of a mixed prep, we’ve had a few injuries and a few issues between myself and Helen so it’s not been ideal but we’ve come in with a good taper and we’ve really enjoyed the racing this weekend.

“To get in the final was great, we’ve not raced the Dutch girls before so to actually race our main competitors is great,” she added.

For more info: British Cycling

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