Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review
May 12, 2014 11:27 am
England rugby sevens head coach Simon Amor admitted his side’s desire to please a home crowd may have been their undoing as they failed in their quest to claim their first IRB World Series victory at Twickenham in 15 years.
Amor’s England signed off this season’s campaign with a third-place finish in the Cup competition after defeating Fiji 26-19 in the play-off.
It could have been so much more though after an impressive 100 per cent start which saw them record victories over Wales, Argentina, overall champions New Zealand and France.
But they came unstuck at the Cup semi-final stage as Australia went 15-0 up at half-time, an advantage they would not relinquish despite tries from captain Tom Mitchell and Dan Norton for England.
Amor said: “A coach is never happy unless they are winning cups. The crowd here have been amazing all weekend long and the guys wanted so desperately to really connect with the crowd and show how much it meant.
“Sometimes we just tried too hard and particularly in the Australia game we got our game plan all wrong and there was a bit of fuzziness in the head but it was all about trying to do the shirt justice and you can’t fault guys when they do that.
“We showed a bit of resilience going into it, we were just a few seconds too late.”
It means Amor leads England to an overall fourth place finish in his first season in charge of the team, with the head coach predicting they can lift their levels further this summer.
“I think fourth place a fair reflection of where the team is at. We have made loads of progress this year with a load of changes,” he added.
“The group have grown an awful lot which is really encouraging and it sets us up nicely in terms of our preparation for the Commonwealth Games which is a big goal for us and with next season in mind.”
Giles Scott believes there’s more to come after clinching gold at sailing's Finn European Championship in La Rochelle.
Scott won the title with a day to spare, upgrading his silver from 12 months ago, while British team-mate Ed Wright won bronze.
“The Europeans is a major event and I’m most happy about this from all the events I’ve won since I’ve come back,” said Scott, who has recently returned to Olympic class sailing after a spell racing in the America's Cup.
“Last time I sailed in the Europeans was in 2011 when I won it, so it’s nice to come back and still be able to do it in the big fleets and at the big events.”
But Scott, who also won the World Championship in 2011, brushed off talk of being a marked man after his five-regatta, seventh month winning streak.
“I don’t try and think about that – whether that’s the case or not I don’t know. I’m just happy with the way I’m sailing at the moment," he added.
"I think there’s still stuff to work on but I suppose that’s a good thing.”
Eilidh Child produced her fastest 400m hurdles season opener as she finished third in this year’s first IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha.
But there was disappointing news for James Dasaolu, who will miss next month's first-ever World Relay Championships as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Andy Vernon and four-time Olympian Jo Pavey took the British and English 10,000m titles - and secured the qualification time for this year's European Championships.
It was Pavey's first appearance on the track since finishing seventh at London 2012 and her first race since giving birth last September. Chris Thompson and Beth Potter also secured selection times for Zurich.
British judoka Colin Oates secured a career best result as he won gold in the Baku Grand Slam, Azerbaijan.
The event is one of four Grand Slams, the top level events on the International Judo Federation’s world tour.
“It’s a great feeling for me to win my first Grand Slam," he said. “What’s important now, with Olympic qualification starting, is to maintain this level of performance consistent."
Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Harry Meade both produced impressive showjumping routines to secure top-three finishes at the 2014 Badminton Horse Trials, which was won by Australia’s Sam Griffiths.
Meanwhile, British riders have made equestrian history with an unprecedented clean sweep of number one world rankings.
William Fox-Pitt's recent victory in Kentucky secured him top status among the world's leading eveners while Olympic gold medallists Scott Brash and Charlotte Dujardin top the standings in jumping and dressage.
It's the first time the top slots in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines have been occupied by athletes from the same nation - and underlines strong British medal hopes ahead of the World Equestrian Games in Normandy later this year.
Jack Oliver set a British record to win the 77kg category at weightlifting's British Championships in Coventry.
The 23-year-old lifted 172kg in the clean and jerk to erase the previous best by a single kilogram.
Elsewhere, European bronze medallist Zoe Smith won the women's 63kg, steping up from her normal 58kg division.
And Lucy Garner finished the best British rider at the inaugural Women's Tour, the 19-year old double junior world champion finishing seventh in the general classification.
© Sportsbeat 2014