Olympic24: Murray cruises through; Pooley up for Euro task

25 February 2015 / 07:24

Andy Murray says there is no room for complacency as he prepares for his semi-final match in Dubai and Isobel Pooley believes domestic competition gives her a real chance for success in Prague's European Indoor Championships. Here's our review of the last 24 hours.

  • Andy Murray books spot in Dubai quarters
  • Isobel Pooley relishing European Indoor challenge
  • Jade Jones hopes for Baku springboard
  • IOC encouraged by Rio Olympic progress

Murray makes light work of Sousa

Andy Murray says he will have to keep his wits about him in his Dubai quarter-final after making steady progress past Joao Sousa.

The Olympic champion cruised past the Portuguese 6-0 6-2 in just 57 minutes to set up a clash with Borna Coric.

It was an assured performance from Murray who rarely had to shift out of second gear – Sousa proving his own worst enemy with 38 unforced errors and an inability to hold serve until the ninth game.

But the Scot insists that he had to stay focused to accomplish the task at hand and thinks the young Croatian will provide a stern challenge to his Dubai Championship bid.

"The beginning of the second set was a little bit tricky because he was starting to play a bit better and saved a few break points," said Murray.

"The first set went by very comfortably and then when someone starts to come back into it, that's when it's very important to concentrate on the correct tactics and the way that you're playing.

"Sometimes you go into a match thinking you have less chance of winning. For sure he got off to a very slow start and was very frustrated from even two games into the match, which is quite rare.

"He's (Coric) obviously one of the young guys who's going to continue to get better every week with experience.

"He's going to be making improvements in his game and realising the things he needs to work on if he wants to get to the top of the game. He'll be a tough opponent. He's had some good wins already against top players."

Pooley relishing Euro challenge

Isobel Pooley believes the challenge at home has given her the impetus to succeed on the international stage after she sealed a spot on Great Britain’s squad for next month’s European Indoor Championships.

Pooley has had a mixed start to the indoor season after taking bronze in the British Championships behind Morgan Lake and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

As well as having to settle for bronze the 22-year-old also saw her national record fall as Johnson-Thompson soared to 1.97m.

But she remains undeterred and says she is relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with Europe’s best.

"The European Indoors was always part of the plan during the winter training. I just wanted to get the standard and perform well at the trials to get that automatic selection, so I managed to do half of that," said Pooley.

"I knew I would face formidable competition at the British Championships from Katarina (Johnson-Thompson) and Morgan (Lake). I think I put too much pressure on myself and that resulted in an average 1.88m jump. I was really pushing for that excellent breakthrough performance.

"We are really driving the event forward and pushing it higher. High jump is full of cliches but Kat (Johnson-Thompson) has raised the bar for us all.

"Last year she jumped 1.96m indoors and then I went on to match that outdoors, so who knows what is going to happen this year. She has laid down the gauntlet and it is now up to me to rise to it – that’s my speciality.

"This is a great opportunity for me to compete against the best athletes on a big stage.

"I've competed against the girls on many occasions such as Ruth Beitia (reigning European Indoor champion) and Kamila Licwinko (European leader), who are in stunning form at the moment.

"To have been part of those competitions has given me such a boost as I have been up there competing with them."

Jones excited by first European Games

Jade Jones believes the inaugural European Games in Baku can be the perfect springboard to success at Rio 2016.

The Olympic taekwondo champion will head to Azerbaijan looking for crucial ranking points that will see her secure a spot at next summer’s Games.

And she is hoping that Baku will provide a similar boost to her chances of retaining gold as the Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

“Before 2012 I had the Youth Olympics which was my first major competition that helped me see what the Olympics was like so that was great preparation,” said Jones.

“So this should be the same sort of thing, another multi sport event with a lot of hype that can come ahead of the Olympics.

“It fits in really well with my schedule because at the minute I’m chasing ranking points to qualify automatically in December.
“As an athlete that’s amazing and I think there’s 40 points on offer so that’s a lot and it’s a great opportunity for me to ensure my qualification.

“It’s the first one so you don’t know what to expect. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s another chance to get another major medal and to become the first one because there’s another bit of history there.”

International Olympic Committee encouraged by Rio progress

Rio 2016 organisers have made encouraging progress in their planning for next year's Olympics.

Officials from the International Olympic Committee visited the city for their eighth inspection, with the delegation led by IOC President Thomas Bach.

"We were pleased to be able to show President Bach that good progress has been made on the Rio 2016 Games," said coordination commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel.

"The advancements made on both the Barra and Deodoro Olympic Parks were very encouraging, with both areas on track to leave fantastic legacies to the people of Rio and the athletes of Brazil. 

"However, the Rio team is now entering the most intense phase in the preparation for the Games, as they reach a new level of detail while planning numerous test events.

“With 21 test events planned for this year and a significant number of the world’s best athletes coming to Rio to try the venues, Rio 2016 will have a lot to deliver while still preparing for the Games. 

"We were pleased to see that Rio and its government partners have put in place structures that will allow them to deal with what will be an intense year ahead, filled with thousands of details that will need to be dealt with before the Games."

© Sportsbeat 2015