The Weekend Roundup
Missed all the sports action last week? We got you. Every week we bring you the essential news and results to make sure you haven’t missed out.
A double win in the 3000m and 1500m at the European Indoor Championships this weekend saw Laura Muir go from rising star to British great. In these emphatic victories Muir built up a strong lead over her opponents going into the last lap where her contorted facial expression showed she was able to find another gear to seal the gold medals. With the Olympics two summers away, Muir still has room for improvement but, clocking up times as good as these already show she’s got a podium finish in Tokyo in her sights.
Elsewhere on the track, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke went into the 800m final the most experienced athlete in her field. Having missed out on the win two years earlier she took this race, literally, in her stride leading from the start in a dominant performance which earnt her the gold medal.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson started the season saying she was the best she’d ever felt and we’re beginning to see why as she eased to pentathlon victory. An equal season’s best started off her weekend in the 60m hurdles and set the tone for the event. A solid 1.96 in the high jump, only 0.01 shy of her PB, followed by a lifetime best shot put 13.15 opened up a gap between Johnson-Thompson and the rest of the field which they never closed.
Omloop Het Nieuwsbald - an elite international one-day cycling event in Belgium - was heavily criticised this weekend as it halted the women’s race after 35km. Why? They’d caught up with the men. The men start 10 minutes earlier than the women, but race leader Nicole Hanselmann broke away and caught the men’s support vehicles when organisers stopped her. Whilst she was allowed a headstart when the race was resumed, Hanselmann eventually finished in 74th place. After the race she told Cycling News ‘We came too close to the men’s so we had to get a neutral time gap again so it was a bit sad for me because I was in a good mood and when the bunch sees you stopping they just get a new motivation to catch you. We could just see the ambulances of the men’s race. I think we stopped for five or seven minutes and then it just kills your chances.’
England were deserved victors mid-week after terrific strikes from Ellen White and Beth Mead gave them a 2-1 victory against Brazil. Facing up against reigning world champions USA this Saturday was always going to be a sterner test.
A shaking start saw Abbie McManus clear off the line for England before Rachel Daly’s clearing header fell to Megan Rapinoe, whose clinical strike took the USA ahead. Their lead was short lived as Steph Houghton’s curled home an indirect free-kick inside the box. In the second half England were quickest out of the blocks as Nikita Parris slotted home to give the Lionesses the lead. England had struggled with USA’s set pieces throughout the match and it was a scrappy corner that earnt the home team the equaliser. FA bosses came under fire for appointing the managerial novice Neville, but with England now toe-to-toe with USA after years of being overshadowed, they will no doubt be patting themselves on the back. Tuesday’s fixture against Japan - who have also drawn to USA and beaten Brazil - will be decide the title and, after that, it’s all eyes towards the World Cup.
Reigning champions Wasps have opened up a 6 point lead at the top of the Superleague table after pummeling Strathclyde Sirens 61-34. Team Bath secured their first win in three just squeezing out Manchester Thunder 60-56. Meanwhile Loughborough Lightning remain in the chasing pack with a five goal win over London Pulse. The match of the weekend was a tensely fought battle betten Surrey Storm and Celtic Dragons which saw the home team lose by a mere two goals, 46-48. After the game Dragon’s captain Nia Jones remarked ‘we were really clinical in the first five minutes...We made it a bit of a dog fight for ourselves in the end but I am so pleased on how we came through.’