Rather than learn from my shooting mistake the other day, where my eagerness to talk meant that I hastily pronounced that Britain’s shooters had failed to qualify – before going on to do even worse the next day and confirm this – I’ve written even more waffle about this country’s sports stars than you knew you wanted to hear.
Very few of Britain’s top top athletes are in action this week, with golf’s US Open the next event to really throw them all back in at the deep end. Even so, it’s an important few days for England’s men’s squash team, plus preparation for Wimbledon and what could be the last ever GB Handball game…
Andrea Gales had a busy start to her Archery World Cup in Antalya, participating in all three compound events. In the individual qualifications, Gales scored 677 to go 21st, with Lucy Holderness coming in at 53rd and Pauline Burfitt 55th. The three girls then joined forces in the team event, finished 13th out of 15 nations. Gale also linked up with Duncan Busby, the sole British man in the individual category where he finished 39th on 684 points, but only managed 14th in the mixed team format.
In the fourth World Challenge event in a week, two British athletes took to Dakar, Senegal to stake a claim for British teams later in the Olympic cycle. Richard Strachan, who was recently named as part of the GB & NI contingent for the European Athletics Team Championships, came fourth in the 400m race whilst Mukhtar Mohammed could do no better than sixth in the 800m.
The mixed doubles draw of the Indonesian Open SuperSeries Premier event was put to one side yesterday as all other competitions began. Most English entrants were successful; Chris Adcock and Andrew Ellis continued their successful partnership by beating a home pair in straight games, as did Lauren Smith and Gabby White in the women’s doubles. Chris Langridge and Peter Mills took marginally longer against Danes Rasmus Bonde and Mads Conrad-Petersen, winning 2 sets to 1.
Unfortunately, English number one Rajiv Ouseph was knocked out in the first round by Hong Kong’s Wing Ki Wong and there was also disappointment for Heather Olver and Kate Robertshaw, losing in straight games from another Indonesian pair.
Not the best day for the five British cyclists at the Tour de Suisse. David Millar was the best of a slow bunch, his time of 56 seconds behind leader Cameron Mayer only good enough for 111th. The others, all part of Team Sky, were led home by Luke Rowe (123rd), with Josuha Edmondson (126th), Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (141st) and Ben Swift (161st) coming in over a minute later.
Great Britain may have played their last ever handball game as they succumbed to a 26-37 loss to Italy. A lack of funding for Rio 2016 means that players have had to pay their own way through these European Championships and four games without a win stops them from progressing on towards the next phase. Even so, regular top scorer Steven Larsson netted eight goals and captain Bobby White admitted he was “proud” of his side.
British players are at a premium at the first leg of the Asian PTC, kicking off in Yixing, but the majority of them are safely through to the second round. Mark Selby did what was expected of him, breezing past home hopeful Ye Shaojun and John Higgins benefitted from a walkover. Even veteran Jimmy White is through after a whitewash over Cui Bo. Unfortunately, former world champion Mark Williams slumped to a surprise 4-1 loss to China’s Ju Reti.
Wolverhampton Wolves are still suffering from the loss of injured Tai Woffinden and Ty Proctor as they were thrashed by King’s Lynn – particularly by Richie Worrall. The Stars rider secured an impressive 18-point maximum with his six wins out of six to take his team up to joint second with Birmingham.
The Brummies were supposed to travel to Poole Pirates last night, but the meeting was rained off and has been rescheduled for tonight.
The task for Scotland was always going to be tough when pitted against England and so it proved as the trio of James Willstrop, Adrian Grant and Daryl Selby saw off the challenge of Alan Clyne, Chris Small and Greg Lobban. Clyne threatened to spring a surprise against English number two Willstrop, but was unable to keep the momentum building and crashed out in straight games.
Away from the World Team Championships, Adam Auckland began to improve on his Barossa Valley Open runner-up achievement by beating home opponent Daniel Wright in the first round of the South Australia Open. Jack Jago also progressed, beating Australia’s Tim Cowell in the minor-ranking event, but Tristan Eysele and Robert Downer were knocked out, the latter a surprise defeat as Downer was seeded sixth.
Liam Pitchford was the sole British competitor at the China Open leg of the Super Series and appeared to be en route to a place in the main draw after two wins against Panamanian and Japanese opponents, but a 4-2 defeat to China’s Yang Zi meant he finished second in his qualification group, ending his participation.
Dan Evans won his second straight match against top opposition, this time against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, but now faces a huge challenge against Juan Martin Del Potro. Jamie Murray also advanced in the doubles of the AEGON Championships alongside Aussie John Peers but it was misery over in Birmingham’s AEGON Classic. Heather Watson, wildcardd Johanna Konta and Laura Robson, who received a bye, all lost their second round matches in straight sets.