Weightlifter Zoe Smith makes history, a big week in the pool and two rowers run the marathon – ladies of sport we salute you. Adele Norris reports
Zoe Smith made history at European Weightlifting Championships winning bronze in Israel.
Smith took bronze with a total of 204kg – it is only the second overall European medal won by a British woman ever.
- Image: Twitter @ZoePabloSmith
The Europeans are the 19-year-old’s first major international since London 2012. She finished 12th in the 58kg before suffering injury in the aftermath.
‘Overall, I’m really, really happy that all the hard work I’ve put in in training and rehabbing my back with Sam [Dovey, her new coach] has paid off.’
‘It was my first international for a long-long time, so not too shabby. I do have mixed emotions, though.
‘I’m obviously overjoyed to have got a medal at the euro seniors, it’s was something I didn’t realise at first as I was too busy being disappointed at my absolutely appalling clean and jerk effort.
‘But I perked up when I looked at the scoreboard. My lifting wasn’t great; it was 2kg less than at the English Championships in February but my body weight was lower than usual as I think I lost a bit of muscle getting over a cold last week.’
SWIMMING – The 2014 British Swimming Championships.
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor dominated the 200m freestyle heat, eased into the 100m fly semi-finals and set a PB of 1:57.23 – the fourth fastest ever from a female GB swimmer – all on the first morning of the competition in Glasgow.
Ellie Faulker, Lizzie Simmonds and Jazz Carlin also progression to the semi-finals, while Fran Halsall and Jemma Lowe were in action in the 100m fly.
On Thursday Lowe and Aimee Wilmott won their 400m IM heats.
Willmott has a best of fifth in the 400m medley at the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 while she was 11th in the event at the Olympics and ninth at the worlds. Ahead of the competition the 21-year-old told Team GB she wants medals.
‘I feel as though I’m going into a really important period for me. When I competed at last year’s World Championships that meant I’d completed the set of swimming in worlds, Olympics, Europeans and Commonwealths,’ she said.
‘I’ve had the novelty of being there now I want to be challenging for titles and winning medals. I’m 21 now, so the next three years leading up to Rio should be some of the best of my career.
‘I feel like I’m really good shape and I’ve taken a decent chunk out of my times over the winter. Hopefully, that all point towards a successful summer.’
Fran Halsall (58.65) was fastest in the 100m fly heats. She revealed to Team GB that she is targeting Commonwealth Games qualification in five events at the Swimming Championships.
The 23-year-old competed in six events on her Olympic debut at Beijing 2008 and then five at the European Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2010 – which she returned from with a medal in each of her five events contested for ten in total and was to swim in five again at the London 2012 Olympics.
Halsall failed to win a medal at her second Olympics however and did a reduced programme of three events at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, which returned 50m freestyle bronze.
But she is back to five for the British Championships, which act as a Commonwealth trial, including the 50m backstroke – an event she has never competed in at senior international level.
‘If I make the team, Glasgow will be my third Commonwealth Games. The Games are a great opportunity for younger swimmers to take part and gain valuable experience on a world stage, and for me it will be good preparation for Rio 2016.’
So Friday came round with with 50m freestyle.
The same day Fran celebrated her 24th birthday and what a gift – she defended her title! at the British Gas Swimming Championships – she clocked 24.51seconds for victory in the 50m freestyle.
She said: ‘The race didn’t go quite as planned and I was a bit annoyed to be so far off my personal best.
‘But I am really pleased to have got the English nomination time. Now it’s a case of going back, reassessing and looking at how I can improve my time.’
Fran later defended her 50m butterfly title, a second gold, but admits she still isn’t swimming how she should be.
‘I haven’t been swimming that fast this week and didn’t have a great end to the race so I’m really pleased to have kept my title.’
Elsewhere Sophie Taylor set an English record 2:24.46 minutes to win the 200m breaststroke. She has already scooped up the 50m gold and now has her sights on the 100m after topping the heats with a time of 1:09.59.
Rachael Kelly (59.09) and last year’s silver medallist, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (59.70) each won their heats in under a minute.
On Friday Kelly progressed second and third fastest after clocking personal best efforts of 26.41 and 26.69
O’connor came in behind Hannah Miley – who reclaimed her 200m IM title – as second fastest (2:13.76) while Allen qualified in fifth (2:16.19).
Miley, who totted up six golds in a row between 2007 and 2012 before settling for a bronze last year, is on form in Glasgow after clocking 2:12.62 in the heats.
O’Connor secured a second gold on Sunday evening.
She led from the start to post a new English record of 2:09.71minutes, good enough for consideration for this summer’s Commonwealth Games, but insisted it wasn’t easy.
‘I’m very happy with my win. The 200 medley is my favourite event and I’m thrilled to have set a new English record and got under the consideration time,’ she said.
‘I felt good during the first 100m but it’s such a strong field that I knew they would come back if I didn’t push myself. I didn’t have a lot left in the last 25m but I dug really deep and am really happy with the time.’
Lizzie Simmonds cruised in Sunday evening’s final to try and make a third successive 200m backstroke gold.
The 23-year-old finished fourth in the event at London 2012 and set a time of 2:12.06 to come out on top as fastest qualifier in the morning session’s final heat.
Her performance took her more than a second clear of second-fastest qualifier Lauren Quigley (2:13.37), who took 100m backstroke silver on Saturday.
Late on Sunday evening though Lauren Quigley stripped Simmonds of her 200m backstroke crown in the final ten metres.
Defending champion Jazz Carlin (8.29.77) made plain sailing of her 800m freestyle heat, as 2013 silver medallist Ellie Faulkner (8:39.15) edged Danielle Huskisson (8:39.33) to qualify in second.
They battle it out on Monday in the final.
In the SB9 100m breastroke, former world champion Harriett Lee made 1:21.74 while Paralympic SB8 silver medallist Claire Cashmore progressed on 1:22.32.
Synchronised Swimming – National Performance Director Biz Price: ‘Our girls are likely to be some of the top athletes at that competition.’
Jorja Brown and Genevieve Randall narrowly missed out on medals at the Synchronised Swimming Championships in Ponds Forge, Sheffield.
In the international Junior Figures competition Brown finished fourth with 74.1600 points while teammate Randall was fifth with a score of 73.1927.
Jacqueline Simoneau of Canada took the top spot with 80.7418.
Dutch swimmers Liza Foppen and Mirthe Kuperus claimed silver and bronze with 75.5782 and 74.6618.
Biz said: ‘It was disappointing not to get a medal in the Figures, especially as Jorja came fourth and was only 0.5 points away from bronze.’
‘But this is a good benchmark for us to look at where we are against other countries like the Netherlands and the scores are really encouraging for the Synchro World Cup later this year and mean that our girls are likely to be some of the top athletes at that competition.’
Olympic gold medallists Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins started the Virgin Money London Marathon – and then ran the race themselves.
Grainger and Watkins won rowing’s double sculls gold at london 2012.
They sent the 36,000 runners and wheelchair racers on their way this Sunday.
Grainger ran the race for International Inspiration, a charity set up after London 2012 to use sport to tackle social problems.
And Watkins, who recently announced she would not be competing at the 2016 Olympics, after taking a year out following the birth of her first child William, ran as part of a squad of runners raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
‘Having the opportunity to take part in the race on behalf of International Inspiration is a privilege in itself, but having been asked to start the race on its behalf is an honour,’ said four-time Olympic medallist Grainger.
‘I can’t wait to feel the energy of a ‘home crowd’ again as I take part in one of the most iconic marathons in the world.’
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