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Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review

April 28, 2014 14:34 pm

William Fox-Pitt delivered under intense pressure and intense heat to win one of eventing's biggest prizes at Kentucky.

The British number one claimed his third victory at the four-star event on Bay My Hero, following up on previous wins in 2010 and 2012.

Rising star Lauren Kieffer made the Olympic medallist work for his win with a clear round in the decisive jumping but Fox-Pitt, who has yet to decide on his preferred horse for this year's World Equestrian Games, proved ice cool despite the tension.

"I was thinking I was probably settling for second but it's great for him to perform so well," said Fox-Pitt. 

"There is still a long way to go until the World Equestrian Games but it's great to have options, even though he's probably the least experienced of my horses."

Rajiv Ouseph won men's singles silver at badminton's European Championship while fellow London 2012 Olympian Imogen Bankier, alongside Bulgarian partner Petya Nedelcheva, won mixed doubles bronze.

Ouseph was looking to become the first British European singles champion for 24 hours but was edged out 21-18, 21-10 to Danish top seed Jan Jorgensen of Denmark in Kazan, Russia.

Lizzie Armitstead retains control of the World Cup leaders jersey after a third consecutive second place in the Flèche Wallone, a massive improvement from her previous best finish, 12th, in one of cycling's toughest one day classics.

Elsewhere, Mark Cavendish showed he had recovered from the stomach virus that has sidelined him since March's Milan-San Remo, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Turkey in Alanya.

"It's the first race after five weeks so you never really know but I'm super happy that I could come here to Tour of Turkey and win the first stage," he said. "Especially after coming back after getting sick."

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Greg Rutherford produced one of the week's stand out performances taking sole control of the British long jump record.

Rutherford shared the previous 8.35 metre mark with Chris Tomlinson but soared to an impressive 8.51m in San Diego, winning the even ahead of American Tyron Stewart.

Rutherford endured an injury-hit 2013 season, rupturing his hamstring at the Diamond League in Paris just a month before the World Championships, where he failed to qualify for the final.

Jodie Stimpson made it back-to-back triathlon World Series victories with a win in Cape Town with British team-mate and former world champion Helen Jenkins taking second. Spain’s Javier Gomez once again beat Britain’s Jonny Brownlee to gold in the men’s race, with Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee absent. 

Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre won Britain's only Olympic class medal with a silver in the 470 class at sailing's ISAF World Cup in France.

McIntyre sailed with a broken finger as New Zealand's world and Olympic champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie won by 12 points.

“It was a really fantastic week," said McIntyre, whose injury kept her out of the last round of the World Cup series in Majorca. 

"We’ve sailed really well but just started to get a bit tired towards the end of the week as our sailing fitness isn’t really there.  But we’re so pleased – to do so well in spite of that is really brilliant, and we’ve got lots of work on during May in our training."

However, team manager Stephen Park rued some missed opportunities in other classes - though believes it will come right in time for this year's World Championships.

“There are ups and downs and justifications for all the individual classes, but at the end of the day we would have liked to have thought that we would have come away with more than one medal in the Olympic classes, so there’s a little bit of work to go on there," he said. 

"But we’re still pretty comfortable that we’re on track for the Worlds and the test event later on in the year when those things will need to be addressed by then and people will need to deliver the performances that we believe that they’re capable of.”

British divers celebrated their return to London's Olympic pool with two medals at the FINA World Series.

Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow scooped 10m synchro silver and Rebecca Gallantree and Hannah Starling added 3m synchro bronze.

"We're really pleased - it was a really good competition," said Barrow. "The crowd were so amazing and we enjoyed every second of it.

“Our preparation for this weekend had gone really well so it was nice to go in there feeling relaxed and in a good mood.”

Elsewhere, Jack Laugher secured his best result at a World Series as he finished fourth in the 3m springboard but it was a tough event for Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley.

He secured a season's best in qualifying but struggled with his 'demon dive' - ranking fifth.

"It was a little frustrating with that twisting dive because it’s always been my nemesis dive and it’s something I’m working on,” said Daley.

“If my twister had gone well, I’d have been looking at a bronze medal there probably so it’s a little frustrating. An extra 30 points would have put me comfortably up there.

“The rest of my dives are better than they have been for a long time so it’s just a matter of getting my twister right now.”

Meanwhile, seven British fighters, including former world kickboxing champion Charlie Maddock, won medals at taekwondo's Greek Open while Olympians Naomi Folkard and Larry Godfrey won mixed team bronze at archery's World Cup series in Shanghai.

And Great Britain's women's water polo team pulled off their greatest win with a 9-7 victory over world champions Spain in Manchester.

"You can see how we celebrated, that was like a final for us," said Angie Winstanley-Smith.

"We've been through so much over the last three or four months. It's been horrific.

"We've had to look at our lives totally differently and to come away with a result like that shows you the strength we have and also the strength of character we have. We're not just a water polo team, we're a family."

 © Sportsbeat 2014