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Countdown to Rio: Summer sports week in review

June 9, 2014 07:10 am

Chijindu Ujah became the third fastest British sprinter of all-time with an attention grabbing personal best in Holland.

The 20-year old European junior champion clocked 9.96 seconds to become only the fifth Briton to run sub ten seconds.

Only 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie and James Dasaolu have gone quicker.

The sprinter, who shares his coach Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo with Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, carved more than two tenths of a second off his previous best.

Ujah finished second to Trinidad's Richard Thompson at the FBK Games in Hengelo while British team-mate Harry Aikines-Aryteetey came fifth in 10.08 secs. It completed a memorable weekend for Britain's in-form sprinters, following Adam Gemili's 10.07 secs at the Diamond League meeting in Rome.

Also in Hengelo, Laura Muir clocked a personal best 4.02:91 in the 1500m while European champion Lynsey Sharp raced to a career best 2.00:09 in the 800m.

In Rome, Scot Eilidh Child shaved almost a second off her season’s best, clocking a time of 54.82 in the 400m hurdles to claim third.

David Florence and Mallory Franklin were the stand-out stars as Great Britain topped the medal table at the canoe slalom World Cup in London.

Florence took individual C1 gold and then topped the podium in the C1 and C2 team events, the latter with fellow Olympic silver medallist Richard Hounslow.

Teenager Franklin, 19, won the women's C1 title ahead of British team-mate Eilidh Gibson, just 18.

British paddlers - who failed to make the podium at last week's European Championships - ended the weekend with a clean sweep of team titles, seven golds and a silver overall.

“It was absolutely outstanding and the icing on the cake from a hugely successful weekend,” said performance director John Anderson.

Florence, a double world champion last year and two-time Olympic silver medallist, admitted returning to winning ways on home waters felt extra special.

“To take a victory anywhere is incredible and especially here where I train in front of a home crowd, what a day,” he added. 

“Home support was fantastic. I could hear the crowds every run, with people shouting on the start line and cheering all the way down the course.  There were a bunch of kids I help coach and to hear them running all the way down it was great.”

Jack Laugher claimed another medal double at diving's World Series in Mexico - one week after a similar result in Canada.

The in-form British teenager scored 3m synchro silver with partner Chris Mears and then won bronze in the individual event. Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow just missed out on the 10m synchro podium but finished the World Series ranked joint third overall.

Tom Daley secured a confidence boosting personal best as he claimed silver behind China's Qiu Bo.

Olympic bronze medallist Daley had looked solid throughout qualifying in Monterrey and scored 577.20 points to finish just behind the three-time world champion and just ahead of overall winner, Russia's Victor Minibaev.

At the British Championships in Sheffield, Matthew Dixon, 14, and 13-year old Victoria Vincent won the 10m platform titles while James Denny and Alicia Blagg claimed wins in the 3m springboard.

Rebecca Gallantree and Hannah Starling won the gold medal in the women's 3m synchro, while Freddie Woodward and Nick Robinson-Baker won the equivalent men's event.

Dave Evans and Ed Powys were dominant winners of the 49er class as the latest leg of the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup was staged in Weymouth.

Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Bryony Shaw, the world number two, finished the regatta with an unblemished scorecard to beat Spain’s Blanca Manchon by 18 points.

Elsewhere, Giles Scott claimed the Finn title and Luke Patience and Elliot Willis won the 470 class  - both crews achieving their victories with a day to spare.

And Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre took the women’s 470 crown to complete a dominant regatta on home waters for British sailors.

England's men face a must-win clash with Belgium to make the semi-finals at the hockey World Cup.

Bobby Crutchley's team drew with Spain before a last-gasp win over India and a confident 2-0 victory against Malaysia.

Unbeaten Australia ended their run with a 5-0 victory, meaning Monday's clash with Belgium becomes a virtual quarter-final.

“We won’t do anything too different from what we’ve done in the whole tournament or the last 12 months. We’ll go away and pick ourselves up from this," said captain Barry Middleton, after the loss to Australia. 

"It’s disappointing now, but ultimately it makes no difference going into the Belgium game. We know what we have to do. We’ve played them enough over the last 12 months to know what to expect and I’m sure they know what to expect from us. 

"It comes down to who plays well on the day and who fights in and around both circles, which is where we let ourselves down. We need to make improvements on those things.”

However, England's women - bronze medallists four years ago and including many of the the British team that finished third at the London Olympics - won't be making the knockouts after four straight defeats.

“It’s as bad as it gets. We’re going to finish the tournament a long way from our potential and our ranking," said coach Jason Lee. 

"This is rock bottom. As a player and coach this is my fifth World Cup and this is the worst of those worst experiences that’s for sure.”

Great Britain’s modern pentathlon performance director Jan Bartu hailed Kate French after her fourth-place finish on debut in the World Cup final in Florida.

Despite focussing training on next month’s European Championships and the World Championships at the start of September, the world number 14 shone again and produced a strong all-round performance.

“Fourth was a fantastic result, especially as Kate is in full training at this point and there was no special preparation for this competition,” he said.

“It was another very promising performance by Kate. She was competing against some really fierce athletes in Sarasota and was very close to breaking into the medals."

Rachael Vanderwal produced an eye-catching display as Great Britain started their women's EuroBasket qualifying campaign with a win over Belgium.

Vanderwal contributed 17 points and downed a decisive three pointer in the closing seconds to secure the 56-49 victory in Worcester.

"The atmosphere made a big difference down the stretch for us – it was a huge difference in getting the win," said Vanderwal.

Defending champion Chris Froome set his mark for the Tour de France with an emphatic time trial victory on stage one of the Criterium du Dauphine - finishing eight seconds ahead of rival Alberto Contador.

"I don't think it was necessarily the objective to take the yellow jersey on such a short, flat time trial but I couldn't be happier with the result," added Froome.

Meanwhile, Sir Bradley Wiggins confirmed he will not be lining up alongside Froome in this month's race, which starts in Yorkshire.

Elsewhere, at the Bramham Horse Trials, Izzy Taylor and Orlando ranked second just ahead of William Fox-Pitt and Freddie Mac, as Ireland's Aoife Clark scooped the prize.

And Natasha Jonas and Stacey Copeland have won light welterweight and welterweight silvers respectively at the women's boxing European Championships in Bucharest, Romania.

“It is a shame that I couldn’t quite win the gold but overall I am pleased with my performances this week and very happy to have won a silver medal," said Jonas.

“I feel like I have proved a point and am now getting back to my best form which augurs well for the Commonwealth Games and World Championships later in the year.”

© Sportsbeat 2014