Childs’s World of Sport

Virginia Wade in 1977
Virginia Wade in 1977

International sports roundup

 By Sports Editor Roger Childs

Bartoli too good at Wimbledon

It’s been 36 years since a British woman has won the Wimbledon ladies singles. This year 19-year-old Melbourne born Laura Robson got to the fourth round, but was no match for Estonian Kaia Kanepi. She might well have been beaten in two sets in the previous round if Kiwi Marina Erakovich had held her nerve.

However Robson showed that she could mix it with the best elite women and will no doubt be the great British hope to match Virginia Wade’s 1977 success sometime in the near future.

World number one, Serena Williams, was the overwhelming favourite to reclaim her Wimbledon title this year, but was unexpectedly beaten in the fourth round by Sabine Lisicki. When did Serena ever lose a match after winning nine straight games and leading 3-0 in the deciding set?

Lisicki made the final, but was trounced by Marion Bartoli, 6-1, 6-4. It was the French woman’s second Wimbledon final having been beaten by Venus Williams back in 2007. So her victory this year was something special: “It’s been my dream since I was 6 years old.”

Agar = agony for England in The Ashes

Imagine the scene: a 19-year-old walks to the crease in his first cricket test for Australia with the team 119 for 9. He’s been surprisingly picked as a left arm spinner and is not expected to last more than a ball or two with the bat. Perhaps the rabbit might get a lucky snick for four through the slips, but is highly unlikely to prevent England getting a 90-odd lead on the first innings.

In fact Ashton Agar created history.

  • His 98 off 101 balls is the highest score ever by a number eleven test batsman.
  • With Phil Hughes they put on 163 for the last wicket, breaking the record held by Kiwis Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge since 1973.

So instead of the expected big first innings lead for England, Australia had the initiative at this point, being 65 in front.

It was a revelation for a sports-mad nation needing some good news. Fairfax Media columnist Malcolm Knox commented “Agar’s batting, like his selection in the first place, was so unexpected it stole the show.”

His batting performance was very good by any standards. This was no bottom of the innings slog, but in fact a polished display with shots all round the wicket. An English commentator confessed:  it’s the only time I have ever hoped an Australian cricketer would score a century!

Kiwi triathletes show good form at Kitzbühel

This was a triathlon with a difference. Instead of the usual flat bike and run course, it was a hill climb. The biking leg took the athletes up a very steep road and then it was off on a run which went steeply up, rapidly down with the final third climbing again to finish at the top of the hill.

The British triathletes dominated again as they had done in Madrid.  The incomparable Alistair Brownlee was an easy winner beating 61 of the world’s best in the elite men’s event and Jodie Stimpson was equally dominant in the women’s section which had 38 starters.

Kiwi have struggled in the 2013 ITU series so far, but obviously liked the hills. The best performances were

  • Andrea Hewitt 4th
  • Nicky Samuels 5th
  • Kate McIlroy 11th
  • Ryan Sissons 5th

Hewitt was second in the 2011 ITU series and won the World Championships in Beijing at the end of that season. Earlier this year she twice suffered from concussion, so was pleased to back in contention on the hills above Kitzbühel. Tough climb, harder and harder as you go up. Happy with 4th place.

All the Kiwis will be looking to continue their good form at the next event in Hamburg on July 20-21.