Football – Cyprus Cup
In a strong tournament that went down to a showdown against a Canadian team reaching their sixth consecutive Cyprus Cup final, England rose to the occasion and gave great hope for this year’s European Championships. Rachel Yankey’s left-footed volley from the edge of the box was the game’s only goal, despite the best efforts of Ellen White and Eniola Aluko. The win exacts a measure of revenge from the bronze-medallists from London 2012 who booted Team GB out of the Olympics at the quarter-final stage.
Ice Hockey – Elite Ice Hockey League
Belfast Giants had one hand on the Elite League championship trophy but their latest loss to the Nottingham Panthers proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. With Sheffield Steelers already out of the equation, this was (pardon the butchered cliché) a real four-pointer. The scores were tied at 3-3 going into the last period but goals from Pat Galivan and Matt Francis clinched the Panthers’ first ever title.
Gymnastics – World Cup
Double Olympic bronze-medallist Max Whitlock returned to action last week in France, where he continued his fine form on the pommel horse with a silver medal. The British gymnast always had a real challenge to usurp Hungary’s Krisztian Berki with his higher degree of difficulty yet, with a lower execution score, Whitlock still pressed him hard. Whitlock proved to be the only British medallist of the weekend.
Alicia Blagg/Rebecca Gallantree
Diving – World Series Beijing
After coming seventh in the London Olympics, teenager Alicia Blagg and her partner Rebecca Gallantree decided to turn back the clock and head to the Water Cube, home of the 2008 aquatic competitions, to score silver in the 3m synchronised springboard. Their score of 305.79 was their highest as a partnership. Gallantree later went on to finish sixth in the 10m synchronised platform alongside Jenny Cowen.
Taekwondo – Dutch Open
Youngster Katie Bradley had no trouble in claiming her first ever A-class gold medal in the WTF Dutch Open on Sunday. Competing in the -44kg class, Bradley breezed through past her European opponents, including a 13-1 stoppage in her first bout and a 6-2 win against her Danish counterpart in the final.
Netball – Superleague
Surrey Storm recovered from their shock loss to the Yorkshire Jets to chalk up two consecutive home wins in last week’s Superleague. Having had a week to digest the result, Storm blasted their way past Manchester Thunder with a score of 62-44. They then came back on Friday to hammer Team Northumbria 65-34 to solidify their position at the top of the league. Surrey now face a potentially tricky visit to Celtic Dragons in the final fixture of the first phase.
Cycling – Tirreno-Adriatico
Tour de France runner-up and Olympic medallist Chris Froome showed why Team Sky should be backing him in this year’s Tour after a strong performance in Italy. The coast-to-coast race is a warm-up for the Giro d’Italia, a major stage race that Bradley Wiggins is hoping to claim, yet Froome stole the limelight with a narrow win on Stage 4. He then went on to grab the leader’s jersey the next day with a sixth-place finish, although relinquished it shortly afterwards to finish the week as a runner-up. Mark Cavendish also deserves a mention for winning the first stage and briefly holding both the GC and points jerseys.
Rugby Union – Six Nations
It was the shock of the tournament, depending on which side of the Millenium Stadium you were on. Wales had endured a torrid autumn of internationals and it didn’t look like a happy spring following their loss to Ireland. England, on the other hand, were on for the Grand Slam on the back of their beating of New Zealand. Yet, the signs were there when they floundered past Italy and England had nothing to offer as Wales served up a 30-3 thrashing, a record win, to hand Wales their second consecutive Six Nations trophy.
Squash – Kuwait PSA Cup
With fellow Englishman Nick Matthew surprisingly out of the third stage of the PSA World Series, the chance was there for James Willstrop to go for glory once again. Unfortunately for him, nobody seems likely to beat Egyptian world champion Ramy Ashour at the moment. The final actually started remarkably well for the third seed, taking the first set 11-8. Willstrop quickly ran out of steam, however, with Ashour claiming the trophy with two consecutive sets of 11-3 at the end.
Judo – Pan-American Open Montevideo
It was an indifferent Olympics for Ashley McKenzie but the -60kg judoka insisted on being heard in Uruguay this weekend. His first three ties quickly ended with ippons and McKenzie went on to beat Eric Takabatake of Brazil in the final. Fellow Brits Matthew Clempner and Ben Fletcher also won gold.
Aside from these winners, a few other big names were out in force. Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis reached the semi-finals of badminton’s Swiss Open, as did Tom Ford in the PTC Finals. St Helens hammered Wakefield Wildcats 52-10 to go fifth in the Super League and Sheffield Sharks got over a humbling loss to Leicester Riders with wins over Cheshire and London. Andy Murray was just another obstacle for Indian Wells finalist Juan Martin del Potro, but another Andy – Hamilton – inflicted Phil Taylor’s second loss in a row in Premier League Darts. Bad news also for England’s cricketers, as heavy rain ruined what looked to be a certain triumph.
The biggest event of the week was the World Figure Skating Championships, but Great Britain could only muster 13th in the form of pairs skaters Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland. The Formula One season also got underway in Australia, with Lewis Hamilton impressing in his new Mercedes with a finish of fifth.