Britain Breezes and China Chimes

Review of the week: 23 – 29 November 2015

Eve Muirhead 2013

Davis Cup Final

Great Britain last won the Davis Cup in 1936 and Belgium last reached the final in 1904 so it was a historic weekend for both teams. Andy Murray won both his singles matches to complete a 100% record for the year, and he won the doubles with his brother Jamie.

But reports of a one or two man team are greatly exaggerated. Kyle Edmund came close to a huge shock when he took a two set lead against Belgium’s David Goffin. And James Ward’s victory against John Isner of the United States was crucial in reaching the final.

Curling and Sailing

While the Scottish brothers were winning their doubles match, their compatriots in Scotland’s curling team were playing in a European championship final against Russia. The rink led by Eve Muirhead (above) was defeated but still finished with a creditable silver medal. The men’s competition went to Sweden, beating Switzerland in the final.

Despite his name, Giles Scott is not Scottish, but he added to a remarkable weekend of British sport with victory in the Finn Gold Cup, the world championship for the oldest Olympic sailing class. He looks set to continue Sir Ben Ainslie’s legacy next year in Rio.

Professional Boxing

But expectations were dealt their most dramatic blow by Tyson Fury’s vanquishing of Wladimir Klitscho for the world heavyweight title, ending a decade of domination for the Ukrainian and his brother, Vitali. Fury is an impressive champion but he may not be  a popular one – he has some unpleasant views, and has been accused of homophobia.

Another British boxer, James DeGale, retained his IBF world super middleweight title, with victory over Lucian Bute. DeGale is an Olympic gold medallist, having won in 2008.

Lin Dan

Badminton and Trampoline

There were test events this week in canoe slalom, hockey and badminton, many with weak fields. China swept the badminton events and its double Olympic champion, Lin Dan, above, won the men’s singles. He will find it tougher at the Games themselves.

Removing a letter from Lin Dan produces Li Dan and she won the world championship in trampoline. Gao Li was victorious in the men’s competition, making a Chinese double.

Olympic champion, Rosie MacLennan of Canada finished out of the medals, in fourth. In Rio, she will hope to continue Canada’s record of consistently medalling in this event.

World Weightlifting Championships

China did not have a problem in Houston, where it topped the medal table. Two of its female lifters, Deng Wei and Xiang Yanmei, won three golds apiece. As with Scotland’s curlers, the main challenger was Russia, with six golds in the heavyweight categories.

North Korea was relatively disappointing with just four gold medals, but featured in the most emotional moment, as Rim Jong-sim took triple silver by competing with a serious injury, against medical advice. Her bravery is undeniable but there is a real question as to whether she had made her own choice or whether her coach had put pressure on her.

Last week, I discussed the North Korean regime, with hard work and doping as possible reasons for its success. This incident shows that even hard work can have a sinister side.

Next week: World League hockey, Pan American surfing, para sailing and swimming

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