Part two of my ‘catchup’ weekly reviews – it’s been a bit hectic at work, and I will be on holiday next week so will probably immediately fall behind again, but I’ll just keep plodding on when I get the chance. The Premier League is back, meaning that every other sport takes a back seat for the time being, but hopefully this review will be able to highlight some of the other excellent sporting action going on around the football juggernaut.
Athletics – Relays give Great Britain something to cheer about
Before Saturday night, the World Athletics Championships in London had been something of a washout for the home team. Although Mo Farah had won gold early-on, since then it had been near-misses and disappointments: Katarina Johnson-Thompson sixth in the heptathlon, Holly Bradshaw sixth in the pole vault, Sophie Hitchon seventh in the hammer throw, Laura Muir fourth in the 1,500m, with Laura Weightman sixth behind her, Eilidh Doyle eighth in the 400m hurdles, Lorraine Ugen fifth in the long jump, Dina Asher-Smith fourth in the 200m. A week which had promised so much seemed to have fallen short for the British, but then, the relays happened. I love watching relays even when Britain aren’t involved, so watching the team win silver, gold, silver, bronze across the four relays was something special indeed. Kudos to the women’s 4x100m relay for starting it all off, although the men’s triumph in their 4x100m was obviously the pick of the bunch, even with the sorry sight of Usain Bolt pulling up in his final race.
While the coverage of the championships focussed on the retirement of Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, there was plenty of action to be had elsewhere. The championships saw many female stars justifying their ‘favourites’ tags (see Dafne Schippers, Caster Semenya, Brittney Reese, both relays), but many events saw shocks as well: Phyllis Francis pushing compatriot Allyson Felix down to third in the 400m; Sally Pearson winning a redemptive 100m Hurdles while favourite Kendra Harrison finished out of the medals in fourth; and USA’s Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs stunning the Kenyans in the 3,000m Steeplechase.
Rugby Union – World Cup kicks off
The first two matchdays of the women’s rugby union World Cup took place on the 9th and 13th August. Defending champions England got off to the best possible start with a 56-5 win over Spain, and followed that up with another demolition, 56-13 against Italy. Results were mixed for the rest of the home nations: Hosts Ireland scraped a 19-17 win against Australia and then came through a tough examination against Japan 24-14; meanwhile Wales lost their two games, 44-12 to New Zealand in their opener and 15-0 to Canada in the second.
The competition so far has seen a number of mismatches. On top of the lopsided results above, we have seen New Zealand win 121-0 against Hong Kong; USA beat Spain 43-0; France beat Australia 48-0; Canada beat Hong Kong 98-0; France beat Japan 72-14. There is one more group stage matchday, on the 17th August, before the semi-finals on the 22nd. The organisers will be hoping for some closer results in the knockout stages, to demonstrate the sports progression.
Cricket – England’s World Cup-winning stars return to domestic action in Kia Super League
From the 10th August to 1st September, six teams from across the country will be competing in the KIA Super League. The competition will see each of the six teams play Twenty20 matches in a round-robin league format, with the top three teams qualifying for the finals day on the 1st September. The teams this year are: Lancashire Thunder (captained by Danielle Hazell); Loughborough Lightning (Georgia Elwiss); defending champions Southern Vipers (Charlotte Edwards); Surrey Stars (Nat Sciver); Western Storm (Heather Knight); and Yorkshire Diamonds (Lauren Winfield).
The teams taking part in the competition include a number of overseas stars who are still in the UK following the recent World Cup, including Suzie Bates (Southern Vipers and New Zealand), Stafanie Taylor (Western Storm and the West Indies), Ellyse Perry (Loughborough Lightning and Australia) and Chamari Atapattu (Yorkshire Diamonds and Sri Lanka).
Since the kickoff, the Southern Vipers, Yorkshire Diamonds, Western Storm and Surrey Stars have each won their opening matches.
COMING UP THIS WEEK
- Rugby Union: World Cup, Ireland – August 9th-26th
- Cricket: KIA Superleague – August 10th-September 1st
- Golf: Solheim Cup – August 18th-20th
- Cycling: Tour of Norway – August 17th-20th
- Tennis: Cincinatti Open – August 14th-20th