Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review
September 16, 2013 09:47 am
Non Stanford and David Florence delivered their own version of Super Saturday - with world title victories 800 miles and just a few minutes apart.
Stanford crossed the line to win the women's world triathlon final in London - a victory she claimed left her speechless - and Florence claimed C1 gold at the canoe slalom World Championships in Prague.
And Florence, a double Olympic silver medallist, wasn't done there - he claimed double gold with a victory alongside Richard Hounslow in the C2 event, upgrading their second place at London 2012.
He becomes first Brit since Lynn Simpson in the women’s K1 in 1995 to win an individual canoe slalom World Championship title.
And Stanford becomes the fourth British women's triathlon world champion in 12 years, following Helen Jenkins in 2008 and 2011 and Leanda Cave in 2002.
“We’ve never won C1 in the World Championships before so it’s always nice to make a bit of history. Within the sport being world champion is absolutely massive and to be able to say I’m world champion is amazing," said Florence.
“To come to the World Championships and win both races is just amazing, something I thought would never be done by anyone.
“I was pretty happy with the C1 but for it all to go so well two days in a row and get on top of the podium again is unbelievable."
Stanford, who was nowhere near Olympic selection last year, arrived at the Games course in Hyde Park with a hope, though an outside one, of becoming the world champion – the prospect of which, she later claimed, meant she had not slept properly for three weeks.
But from the moment she threw open her curtains things went her way. Even the gods seemed on her side, unrelenting drizzle and leaden skies reminding her of home in Swansea and frustrating others used to warmer climes.
Stanford certainly had her share of luck in a race that saw her two rivals for the overall world title - Gwen Jorgensen and Anne Haug - suffer a series of misfortunes, but to use their problems as the principal reason for her success would be doing her a great disservice.
Indeed, it looked as though the most pain she suffered all day was when team-mate Jodie Stimpson - who finished fourth to end a consistent season with overall world silver - sprayed champagne in her eye.
“To stand on the podium with a fellow Brit was great and there was no better way to do it," said Stanford.
“Being the world champion, it’s crazy, it hasn’t really sunk in yet.
"I’m just trying to take it in my stride, but when I get five minutes to reflect on it I will probably get quite emotional."
But there was disappointment for Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and defending world champion and Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee in the men's triathlon final.
If you wanted to see the drive and determination needed to make an Olympic champion you didn’t have to watch the race, you just needed to hang around behind the scenes to see if champions really do treat those impostors triumph and disaster both the same.
While others congratulated Jonathan on his brave performance, following an agonising defeat in a sprint finish to Spain’s Javier Gomez, his brother Alistair was ready to throw a consoling arm around his shoulder and give him a piece of his mind.
This is a sibling rivalry – and rock-solid friendship and training partnership – built on hard work and honesty. After all they’re from Yorkshire, where plain spoken is the native tongue.
“He’s thrown a world title away for being a complete tactical numpty,” said Olympic champion Alistair, who saw his own ambitions fade after the ankle injury he has nursed all season left him unable to compete for the title, he doggedly crossed the line in a distant 52nd place.
“I saw him make his move with 250m to go and I thought, ‘What an idiot’. I’d told him to use his head. If he’d come into the last 100 metres behind Gomez he would have won and he didn’t do it.”
In addition to Florence's success in Prague, fellow paddler Mallory Franklin claimed silver in the non-Olympic women's C1 class while other British triathletes were also on the podium in London.
Georgia Taylor-Brown, 19, won silver in the junior women's event while four British athlete finished in the top eight in the men's junior race - Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon taking silver and bronze.
London 2012 Olympian Lucy Hall raced as the lone leader for over an hour in the women's under-23 race, but faded to finish 16th.
Great Britain's judo team left the Rijeka Grand Prix with plenty of medals.
Faith Pitman won -63kg gold to secure her first IJF World Tour medal while London 2012 Olympian Colin Oates took bronze in the -66kg.
“This is the biggest win of my career so far and I hope I will take this form onto Rome next month," said Pitman.
There were also bronze medals for Olympic silver medallist Gemma Gibbons and team-mate Natalie Powell in the -78kg event.
“It was great to get another medal at this level," said Gibbons.
"I’m still way off my best but looking forward to seeing what I can do when I am back to top form.”
British Sailing's Olympic manager Stephen Park was a happy man after a week of medals and valuable reconnaissance at the Santander City Trophy, the test regatta for next year's ISAF World Championships.
Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield won gold in the men's 470 class while Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark claimed the women's event.
Windsurfer Bryony Shaw and Nacra 17 partnership Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond struck silver while five other crews claimed bronze medals.
"We’ve just got a few World Championships left this season, but our performance has been pretty good in this first year of the Olympic cycle," said Park.
“The conditions here in Santander would be best described as changeable.
“I think the sailors have really enjoyed coming here, getting a view of the venue and getting the opportunity to get some time on the water and actually see what the environment that they’re going to be operating in is like for when it really matters at next year’s World Championships.”
Andy Murray joined forces with Dan Evans and Colin Fleming to secure Great Britain's place in the Davis Cup world group for the first time in two years, following a 4-1 win over Croatia.
The British number one now wants a home tie in Wednesday's draw.
"We could easily draw Spain away in the first round and that would be an ugly match-up for us," he said.
"But it's possible to go deep into the competition, let's enjoy this just now and wait and see the draw on Wednesday."
Captain Leon Smith praised the impact of Olympic champion Murray, who took a break from Davis Cup tennis following the team's relegation to allow other players the chance to experience the event.
"Andy is such a good player and so experienced," said Smith.
"It was more about knowing when to say things, rather than just blurting things. Everyone has played a big part in this, and I hope that everyone has bought into the team spirit."
Elsewhere, double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah lost out in a dramatic sprint finish with Kenenisa Bekele in a memorable Great North Run.
Farah will now take a well-deserved holiday before turning his attentions to the full London Marathon next year.
“It definitely taught me a lot for London, my main preparation this year was the world champs – that was my main focus,” he said.
“I only had two to three weeks for prepare for this. I will take my break, go on holiday and get ready for the London Marathon.”
© Sportsbeat 2013