England‘s prospects at advancing to the Hockey World League final seem to have taken a huge blow after they fell to their third consecutive friendly defeat to Belgium.
Captain Barry Middleton was the sole scorer on Tuesday but not even he could contribute to a collapsing England side that succumbed to a 5-0 defeat away from home. England’s performances have been slowly getting worse, rather than better, but the captain insisted that there are positives to take from the trilogy of losses (don’t they always?).
“It’s been a tough few days, but a good learning curve for all the guys out here,” admitted Middleton. “We’ve played great hockey in patches but going forward we need to play consistently well for 70 minutes. It’s been great to get together as a squad properly for the first time and test ourselves against a side like Belgium, but we now need to take that forward and start winning.”
Someone no stranger to winning is cycling’s Chris Froome and he gave everyone another show yesterday as he won the fifth stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné, snatching the yellow jersey at the same time. Froome was ably escorted up the final mountain of the day by his Team Sky colleagues and, as they began to systematically drop off, the Olympic bronze medallist took the initiative and charged up the mountain. Before very long, Froome had overtaken former rival Alberto Contador and the current race leader to win the race. Sky’s Richie Porte also moved up into second in the general classification, so a good day all round for Team Sky.
Several English golfers are currently littering the top of the Lyoness Open leaderboard after the first day, with Tom Lewis sitting pretty at the top. Lewis carded 63 to go clear top with 63. Richard McEvoy, Graeme Storm and Simon Dyson are all three behind on 66, with Paul Waring and Andy Sullivan all making it to the top ten. Over in the US, Ian Poulter and Greg Owen are the best British representatives, but they could only manage one under par, only good enough for 27th.
The Diamond League moved back to a midweek slot this week as it pulled up in Rome, as did plenty of British athletes. The best of the bunch was Shara Proctor, jumping 6.91m in a competitive long jump competition to go third. Hannah England just missed out on points in the 1500m race by finishing fourth, as did Nigel Levine in the 400m. James Ellington ran 10.32s in the 100m event, albeit the warm-up to the showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin. Phillips Idowu’s first triple jump event since the Olympics saw him finish a disappointing 7th and Dai Greene could do nothing to stop his rivals pushing down to fifth.
Goals from Gilly Flaherty and Alex Scott moved Arsenal Ladies up to fourth in the Women’s Super League after beating Chelsea Ladies 2-1. England and Team GB’s Eniola Aluko managed to pull a goal back in the second half but the London side weren’t able to push on and secure a point. Gordon Reid failed to make the wheelchair singles final at Roland Garros, Phil Taylor and James Wade avoided early upsets at the Speedy Services UK Open darts competition and England’s futsal competition lost their opening match in the friendly Four Nations Tournament, going down 2-1 to the United States.
Rajiv Ouseph advanced to the third round of the SCG Thailand Badminton Open, as did Chris Langridge and Heather Olver, but a number of others failed to make it. Semi-retired Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork entered the Maldives International Challenge, getting knocked out in the second round.
Finally, the Global Champions Tour show-jumping tournament pulled into London, with relatively unknown Mark Armstrong securing a strong second place in the first top-class competition of the weekend. He transferred his decent form into the Massimo Dutti Prix, finishing tenth, whilst John Whitaker and Maximillian‘s clean run was fast enough for sixth.