Review of the week: 13 – 20 July 2015
There was excitement when amateur golfer, Paul Dunne, shared the lead in the Open after the third round. Had he won, he would have received no prize money, in the year in which the reward for first place exceeded one million pounds for the first time. But there was no fairytale as he fell away on the final day and the Claret Jug went instead to Zach Johnson (above), who collected a second major following a three-way playoff.
The Pacific Games came to an end in Port Moresby, with the hosts, Papua New Guinea, heading the medal table. Its top performer was swimmer, Ryan Pini, who struck gold seven times, and the Games were so successful that a PNG bid for the Commonwealth Games is being seriously considered. In the week after Micronesia made worldwide headlines for its thumping defeats, there was better news for football in the region as Tahiti reached the final of the Beach Soccer World Cup, where it lost 5-3 to Portgual.
At the IPC World Swimming Championships, Daniel Dias of Brazil (above left) finished up with seven gold medals and is almost certain to be one of the home stars of the Rio Paralympics. The race to top the medal table was a poignant one between Russia and Ukraine. The training centre which has produced so many Ukrainian swimmers is in the Crimea, currently under Russian control, and Russian athletes have been demanding to use the facilities. This may have been a factor in Ukraine finishing behind its neighbour, but it refused to be defeated and was not far behind. Russia also dominated the World Fencing Championships in Moscow, although Italy parried back to claim second place.
At the Pan American Games in Toronto, there was no surprise in the diving competition where Mexico reigned supreme. Paola Espinosa cemented her position as the greatest ever Mexican at the Games by taking her total medals to thirteen, eight of them gold. She still has some way to go to catch the Brazilian swimmer, Thiago Pereira, who made history by reaching a staggering tally of 23, a record, having won his first back in 2003.
The most improved nation by a huge margin has been Canada which, like Papua New Guinea, has made the most of home advantage. Currently second in the medal table, it has performed well across all sports. Its only London 2012 gold was Rosie MacLennan in trampoline and she was also the champion in Toronto, as was her male counterpart, Keegan Soehn. Artistic gymnast Ellie Black won the most gold medals, three in all. The partisan crowd had a role to play in these triumphs but Canada is well aware that it is not enough on its own, having finished a lowly 27th place in the medal table at its home Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976. The other necessity is money and the country’s Own the Podium programme has given more than $11 million just to gymnastics in the last ten years. Unlike golfers, most Olympians are never likely to become millionaires – they don’t do it for that reason – so they need funding in order to achieve their dreams.
Next week: The conclusion of the Tour de France, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and BMX