Rightio, then! It’s time for the top ten teams and/or individual sportspeople for the week ending 11/11/12. Yes, that’s over four days ago, but I’m incredibly unreliable and had other things to do. What ya gonna do? I’m trying to make this a regular feature – if you have any objections to the following inclusions, write in and I’ll do my best to ignore you.
As will always be the case, only one entry per sport, no matter how good three football teams played. So, in no particular order…
Jenna McCorkell – Figure Skating
Great Britain’s leading ice dancer continued her great season with two wins at the 2012 Icechallenge. In the Free Skating event, McCorkell was the only skater to breach the 100 point barrier and did so by miles, trumping Sweden’s Isabelle Olsson by over seven whole marks. The margin with Olsson during the Short Program wasn’t as profound, taking the amount of points on offer into account, but Jenna still stormed to a double victory in a competition that also included Britain’s Karly Robertson. Either way, McCorkell achieved two personal bests with her dances and is topping off a great last few months.
Stuart Bingham – Snooker
Bingham won yet another Asian PTC event in Zhengzhou City, beating China’s Li Hang 4-3 in a close final. With this, his second APTC win of the year, as well as reaching the final of the Wuxi Classic, Bingham seems to be embracing the Chinese side to the sport and has risen to tenth in the world rankings. Even so, it doesn’t excuse how ridiculous he looks in the above photo!
Benz-Bavarian Duffield – Squash
Both Duffield and Team Chichester made it four unbeaten matches out of four in the latest round of the Squash Premier League, each topping their respective groups, but it was Duffield’s remarkable score of 20 sets won to only a single one conceded that got them a place on this week’s list. The team, containing the likes of individual powerhouses Laura Massaro and world champion Nick Matthew, don’t look like being caught any time soon and are 16 points clear of Chapel Allerton (however the scoring system works out).
Sandy Hazell – Bowls
Whilst it’s good that the BBC is showing bowls again (at least in Scotland) in the form of the Scotland International Open (sponsored by funeral directors – what does that say about the audience’s life expectancy?) but the real action was in Hong Kong. Sandy Hazell, representing England alongside other British nations and a wealth of local talent, defeated Phoenix’s Camilla Leung in straight sets in a relatively close final, coming out an 8-7 11-5 winner. Not content with this, Hazell teamed up with Julie Leake and stormed to the play-offs, beating Hong Kong along the way. Unfortunately, Sandy’s double day was ended early by HKLBA-M, who were in turn beaten by the Welsh pair of Judith Wason and Kelly Packwood. Maybe next time!
Robert Whitaker – Equestrian (Jumping)
Whitaker saved the best until last on a week that looked like petering out to nothing for a good while. Despite a humbling 50th place on “Waterstone” during his first jump of the festival, his horse came back to help him win his last two events and better Scott Brash’s singular win on Bon Ami. Whitaker won a knockout tournament to take one of his prizes, eliminating John Whitaker in the semis. A win against Jillian Terceira granted him prize number one of the tournament and he would quickly go on to win the final race, leaving Vienna with a substantial amount of money.
England – Rugby League
I have my fears for England’s rugby league side, who have had more than their fair share of mediocrity in their past. Even if those problems aren’t truly over, they displayed a warning shot to the Southern Hemisphere by thrashing France in the final of the Autumn International series. The signs were already there, with England having already hammered their opponents in the group stage. Ryan Hall landed four of England’s eight tries whilst Kevin Sinfield showed amazing accuracy with eight goals of his own.
Reading Women HC – Hockey
Whilst the men’s side struggled to a 2-2 draw with Loughborough Students MHC, the women orchestrated a 5-1 win against Clifton and leapfrogged them in the table to climb to sixth. Their feat was matched by Bowdon Hightown against Sutton Coldfield, so there really wasn’t anything in this selection.
Bianca Walkden – Taekwondo
There were plenty of British names in the draw for the Swiss Open but Bianca Walkden was the only one strong enough to fight her way through to the final and win it. In the heavy +67kg, Walkden only had to win three times to claim the title but she did with a minimum of fuss. The member of the GB Taekwondo Team qualified for the final match-up with a crushing 10-1 win over the Dutch Reshmie Oogink. She then edged Nusa Rajher of Slovenia 5-3 in the final to end a fairly successful weekend for British interest in the sport.
Sophie Allen – Swimming
Allen continued to be one of the strongest prospects for a 2016 swimming Olympic medal as she picked up four medals across Japan and Singapore in the FINA Swimming World Cup. Allen’s first prize was a silver in the 100m Butterfly final in Tokyo, closely followed by another one in the 200m Individual Medley. Gold eventually came in the 100m version. Singapore wasn’t quite as successful, but the gulf in class between her and the other British swimmers was striking.
Nic Strange – Badminton
Seedings didn’t lie on Sunday as the Welsh pair of Nic Strange and Joe Morgan cruised to a 21-17 21-16 win against Martin Campbell and Patrick MacHugh of Scotland in the men’s doubles Iceland International final. Along the way, Strange and Morgan also beat Scotland’s Michael Campbell and Angus Gilmour, largely bypassing the massive Scandinavian contingent in the competition. Strange could have made it a “double” in the mixed doubles tournament, but partner Aimee Moran was forced to pull out, ending his chances.
Honourable mentions go out to the “big names” who did respectably but didn’t quite cut it in their own tournaments and games. Andy Murray battled his demons to reach the ATP World Tour Finals semi-final but couldn’t barge his way past a strong Roger Federer. Rory McIlroy awoke from nowhere to reach third in the Barclays Singapore Open having done the PGA/European Tour money list double. The England rugby union side thrashed Fiji to put them in the right position to face Australia this weekend. In football, both West Brom and Manchester United won two matches, the latter having one in the Champions League.