Olympic24: Joyce set for WSB season bow

Joe Joyce named in line up for British Lionhearts' World Series of Boxing clash with USA Knockouts while there it proves to be a victorious day for both England men and women at the table tennis World Team Championships. Here's the latest news from the last 24 hours.

Joe Joyce insists he is relishing the opportunity to help the British Lionhearts preserve their 100 per cent World Series of Boxing record in front of a home crowd against the USA Knockouts on Thursday.

Super-heavyweight Joyce is part of the five-man line-up named for the clash at York Hall which is the Lionhearts' second home match of the season.

They have won all three of their contests so far this term – including an impressive 4-1 victory over the Knockouts in the away fixture in Miami.

In addition to Joyce, Joshua Buatsi will fight at light-heavyweight, Cyrus Pattinson at welterweight, Joe Cordina at lightweight and Muhammad Ali at flyweight.

2014 Commonwealth Games champion Joyce will be making his first appearance of the campaign this Thursday but has a record of 12 wins from 14 bouts in his World Series of Boxing career.

"I have a good record in WSB and I always enjoy boxing in front of my home crowd at York Hall," said Joyce.

"The atmosphere is great and the team is in good form so we will be looking to build on this and maintain our excellent start to the season."

In-form Kelly Sibley made it three wins from three as England women beat Belgium and New Zealand at the World Team Championships, while the men also got on the board against Denmark.

England’s number one Sibley led from the front, defeating Belgium’s leading player Lisa Lung to get England off to a good start in their Group E clash and later beating Eline Loyen as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Against New Zealand, Sibley was again victorious as were teammates Tin-Tin Ho and Karina Le Fevre as they ran out 3-0 winners.

Meanwhile in the men’s competition, England men recovered from a 3-0 defeat by ninth seeds France to beat Denmark 3-1.

Liam Pitchford made it all square by beating Tobias Rusmussen 3-1 and later clinched match win by overcoming Jonathan Groth by the same score.

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson both booked their places in the second round of the Monterrey Open in Mexico.

British number one Konta beat Colombia’s Mariana Duque-Marino 6-3, 6-3 to see up a clash with either Belgian Yanina Wickmayer or Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

While Watson overcame Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-4 6-7 6-3 and faces either Hungarian Timea Babos or Slovenia's Polona Hercog.

Richard Kilty claims he is fully focused on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after withdrawing from selection for the upcoming World Indoor Championships.

Sprinter Kilty is the current 60m world champion after winning the title in Sopot, Poland in 2014 but has now opted not to defend his crown when the Championships take place Portland, USA from March 17-20.

The 26-year-old suffered disappointment over the weekend when he was controversially disqualified for a false start prior to the semi-finals of the British Indoor Championships in Sheffield, despite appearing to be the last to leave his blocks.

He insists not competing in the semi-final or final because of that has left him short of race practice ahead of the World Indoors and with the Olympic Games now a little over five months away, he is turning his attention to the road to Rio instead.

"After taking time to reflect and consult with my coaches, I've regretfully decided to withdraw from World Indoors selection," said Kilty.

"I'm very proud to have been the World Indoor champion but after missing two races this weekend (due to DQ) I would be playing catch-up to reach the performance levels required to defend my World title.

"This year is all about the Olympics, so going into Portland short of races and taking a gamble that I could run myself into form makes no sense when I could start to focus on my outdoor season early.”

Kirsty Gilmour admits she is relishing the opportunity to play pressure-free badminton over the coming months.

Great Britain have just one women's singles spot for the Rio Olympic Games but Gilmour is currently ranked No.19 in the world with her nearest rival – Fontaine Chapman – 68 places further down.

That means the 22-year-old is well on track to trying to earn selection and make her Olympic debut in Brazil come August.

"It's great to have a decent gap in the world rankings – other people are constantly counting ranking points so it's really nice not to have to stress about that," Gilmour told the National.

"Of course I want to have as high a ranking as possible for the Games but having such a big gap lets me concentrate only on playing. I don't have to worry about other stuff.

"After my run of tournaments is done, most of June and all of July will be for training which I'm looking forward to because I can't remember the last six-week training block I had.”

Great Britain Women's Sevens head coach Simon Middleton believes this is crunch time in terms of preparation for the Olympic Games after naming his squad for two upcoming invitational tournaments.

A group of 12 players will fly to Las Vegas for the USA Sevens Invitational Tournament from March 3-5 before heading to Canada for the Vancouver Rugby Festival a week later.

Wales duo Laurie Harries and Jasmine Joyce, as well as Scotland's Stephanie Johnston, will join nine England team-mates to form the GB squad for the events.

"These competitions are an integral part of our prep for Rio and give us the chance to see the GB squad in action again, building on from the January training tournament when the playing combinations started to develop well," said Middleton.

"It is also another opportunity for individuals to stake their claim and earn a place within the Olympic squad.

"It is great to be able to bring a GB squad together in a competitive environment.”

Sportsbeat 2016