Olympic24: Konta sets up Kvitova clash as Armitstead targets Rio gold
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Olympic24: Konta sets up Kvitova clash as Armitstead targets Rio gold

22 June 2016 / 06:48
Johanna Konta sets up a mouth-watering clash with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Eastbourne while Lizzie Armitstead has her eyes set on Olympic gold  – and nothing less. Here's our review of the last 24 hours.
  • Johanna Konta beats Lesia Tsurenko in straight sets at the Aegon International to book a last-16 tie with Petre Kvitova
  • Lizzie Armitstead admits anything other than upgrading her London 2012 silver medal to a gold in Rio will be a disappointment
  • A 10-strong eventing long list is named for Rio 2016
  • Mark Cavendish headlines Team Dimension Data's 13-rider long list for the Tour de France
  • Great Britain women's hockey fall to defeat against New Zealand as they look for a maiden win at the Champions Trophy
  • Keri-Anne Payne has taken the road less-travelled but her destination is still Rio
  • Liam Pitchford has sacrificed plenty to become a double Olympian but he doesn't regret a thing

Konta books Kvitova clash in Eastbourne

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Johanna Konta set up a tantalising last-16 clash with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova later today after beating Lesia Tsurenko at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

Konta battled past her Ukranian opponent 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 – taking 69 minutes to win the first set on a tiebreak before saving three break points in the opening game of the second set, although she ultimately pulled away.

Kvitova, who lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 2011 and 2014, looks set to be an even sterner test for the British No.1 who is seeded 11 at her hometown tournament.

There were mixed results for the Brits in action at the Nottingham Open however as Kyle Edmund went down 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to Ukranian world No.32 Alexandr Dolgopolov but British No.4 Dan Evans reached round three by beating Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 2-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

Armitstead gunning for Olympic gold

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At the London 2012 Olympic Games, Lizzie Armitstead was ecstatic to walk away with a silver medal but four years on she claims anything other than gold in Rio would be a disappointment.

At London, in front of a vociferous home crowd, Armitstead clinched Team GB's first medal of the Games – getting away in a late break to take second in the road race behind Marianne Vos.

Back in 2012 expectations surrounding the then-23-year-old were low, having spent just one full season on the road prior to the Games but this time around things are vastly different.

Not only is Armitstead the reigning World Champion but she has racked up an incredible seven victories from 14 days of racing in 2016, including a home triumph at the recent Aviva Women's Tour.

"I was just a totally different rider back then," said Armitstead. "Going into London, I was looking for a top ten but going into Rio I want gold, and I'd be disappointed with anything else.

"Those are my ambitions, and they're very different to London. In London I felt elated [at winning silver], completely totally happy, but it was surreal, it felt like I was dreaming.

"I think I would have been happy with a top ten so to come away with a medal was beyond my expectation."

Eventing long list named for Rio

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Triple Olympic medallists William Fox-Pitt, Tina Cook and Pippa Funnell are all on the ten-rider long list for Team GB’s eventing squad at Rio 2016.

Fox-Pitt has won team eventing medals at each of the last three Olympic Games while Cook has done so at the previous two, in addition to earning individual eventing bronze at Beijing 2008, and Funnell collected her haul across Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.

The trio are joined on the long list by Laura Collett, Kitty King, Tom McEwen, Gemma Tattersall, Izzy Taylor, Nicola Wilson and Holly Woodhead but there is no place the Queen’s grand-daughter Zara Tindall – who became the first member of the Royal Family to win an Olympic medal at London 2012.

Team GB has qualified four athletes for eventing, with the same number of quota places earned in dressage and jumping, and the final team will be announced on July 5.

Cavendish on Tour de France long list

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish headlines Team Dimension Data's 13-strong long list for this year's Tour de France with fellow Brit Steve Cummings also part of the line-up.

Cavendish, who has won 26 stages at Le Tour to lie third on the all-time list behind only Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault, is expected to be the focal point of the team before turning his attentions to the track as he looks to win an elusive Olympic medal at Rio 2016 later this summer.

The in-form Cummings has soloed to victory three times at WorldTour level already this season, and also gave Dimension Data their first-ever Tour de France stage win on stage 14 last year. 

The 13-rider list will be cut to nine after this weekend's national championships, ahead of the start of the Tour on July 2.

Great Britain still seeking first Champions Trophy win

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The wait for a first win for the Great Britain women’s hockey team at this year’s Champions Trophy goes on after they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand London.

Having drawn with Argentina and lost to the Netherlands, GB were hoping to finally register a victory at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre against the Black Sticks but instead conceded the only goal of the game within the first minute.

Stacey Michelsen took advantage of generous defending to fire home and although Sophie Bray, Lily Owsley and Susannah Townsend all went close to an equaliser throughout the match, New Zealand admirably held on.

The loss all but ends Great Britain’s chances of reaching the gold medal final on Sunday, while they will also anxiously await news on the fitness of defender Crista Cullen who left on crutches with a leg injury.

Unorthodox road to Rio all part of the plan for Payne

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When Keri-Anne Payne dives into the Fort Copacabana water on August 16, she will continue a run of competing at every Olympic Games in which marathon swimming has featured.

But while experience is not to be sniffed at, the Beijing 2008 silver medallist has also been making sure to leave no stone unturned in order not to be swallowed up by her rivals.

Described in her own words as unorthodox, the latest Olympiad has been one of hard work but also, perhaps more crucially for Payne, enjoyment and discovery.

From taking judo lessons from London 2012 silver medallist Gemma Gibbons to travelling the world, she made the decision to initially take a slight step back from swimming, most notably in the aftermath of agonisingly missing out on a medal in front of her home fans at London 2012.

But make no mistake, the passion and determination of the 28-year-old – who last week was named as one of two Team GB open water swimmers for Rio 2016 alongside Jack Burnell – burns as bright as ever.

Read more about Payne’s remarkable journey here

The sacrifices to be an Olympian – but Pitchford has no regrets

Liam Pitchford

Liam Pitchford is like most other men his age.

At 22 he likes nothing more than to relax by playing FIFA or Call of Duty on his PlayStation, or heading out to the golf course.

Liam Pitchford is not most other men his age though.

At 16 he left his Chesterfield home and moved to Germany to pursue his dream of a career in table tennis.

Now, six years later, he is set to move to Sweden to further that career he has forged for himself.

In a little under two months, shortly after his 23rd birthday, he will also be a double Olympian.

Pitchford is currently ranked No.50 in the world, an achievement he has had to make countless sacrifices to achieve.

See more from Pitchford here

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