Countdown to Rio 2016: Olympic sport this week

Chris and Gabby Adcock celebrate their win at the World Superseries Finals
The Adcocks had the biggest win of their careers at the World Superseries Finals in December

THE WEEK AHEAD

BADMINTON: 8-13 March

Event: All England Championships, Birmingham

Who to watch: All the world's top badminton players, including Chinese superstar and double Olympic champion Lin Dan and world number ones Chen Long and Carolina Marin. Britain's husband-and-wife mixed doubles pair Chris and Gabby Adcock won badminton's last major event, the World Superseries Finals.

What you need to know: The All England is the first of this year's five annual World Superseries Premier events, featuring the world's elite players.

Further info: www.allengland badminton.com@YonexAllEngland#YAE16

Key stat: Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson were the last Britons to win a title at the All England Championships, back in 2005.

DIVING: 11-13 March

Tom Daley
Tom Daley won gold in the London leg of last year's World Series

Event: World Series, Beijing

Who to watch: Great Britain's squad includes Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley in the 10m platform and Jack Laugher, the 2015 World Series overall champion in the 3m springboard.

What you need to know: It's the opening stage of the four-leg World Series, an annual competition in which the world's elite divers compete against each other across 10 events.

Further info: http://www.fina.org/content/finanvc-diving-world-series-2016-1

Key stat: Tom Daley and Jack Laugher were the only British gold medallists across the six legs of last year's World Series.

GYMNASTICS: 12 March

Max Whitlock
Max Whitlock has happy memories of Glasgow

Event: Glasgow World Cup

Who to watch: Britain's first ever men's world champion, Max Whitlock, returns to the city where he made history in October. He's joined by his British team-mate and Olympic bronze medallist Dan Purvis and four-time Commonwealth champion Claudia Fragapane.

What you need to know: Glasgow also hosted last year's World Championships, where Whitlock won the pommel horse to become the first man to win a world gold for Great Britain.

Further info: https://www.british-gymnastics.org/news-and-events/international-events/glasgow-world-cup#GWC2016

Key stat: Great Britain finished fifth on the medals table at last year's World Championships, with five medals.

OTHER EVENTS

CYCLING - ROAD: The European stage race season begins in earnest. Geraint Thomas leads Team Sky in a Paris-Nice (6-13 March) field which also includes Alberto Contador. Mark Cavendish meanwhile is hotfooting it from the World Track Championships in London to Tirreno-Adriatico (9-15 March) in Italy.

JUDO: The Olympic test event will be held in Rio on 8-9 March, with Commonwealth champion Ashley McKenzie heading the six-strong British contingent.

MODERN PENTATHLON: The second World Cup meeting of the season (8-13 March) also doubles as a Rio test event. Britain's former world champion Samantha Murray didn't compete in the first World Cup leg in Cairo but will be in Brazil, as will current world champion Lena Schoneborn of Germany.

RUGBY SEVENS: The action comes thick and fast in the men's Sevens World Series, moving from Las Vegas last weekend to Vancouver this weekend. The Canadian event is the sixth round of the 10-event World Series.

SHOOTING: The World Cup season is underway in Bangkok, with the pistol and rifle events concluding on 9 March. No Brits are competing.

SAILING: The medals at the Finn European Championships in Barcelona will be decided on 12 March. World champion Giles Scott has given the event a miss but fellow Briton Ed Wright is vying for another European title.

Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins
Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins provided a memorable finale to the World Track Cycling Championships

LATEST NEWS

TRACK CYCLING

Great Britain finished top of the medals table at the World Track Championships with five gold medals, two of which came in Olympic events.

Jason Kenny won the men's sprint while Laura Trott, who had won the scratch race earlier in the week, took gold in the omnium.

A host of other notable performances included Becky James' return from injury to take keirin bronze, and Jon Dibben's sensational late burst of speed to win the (non-Olympic) points race.

The event at the Lee Valley VeloPark, which also hosted the cycling at the London 2012 Olympics, finished with a rousing madison gold for Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish must now wait to see if he has done enough to earn selection for the British team - GB technical director Shane Sutton had previously said Cavendish had to finish in the top three in the omnium in London but seemed to soften his stance on Sunday.

The two British disappointments of the week were the women's team sprint, who failed to qualify for Rio, and the women's team pursuit, who messed up their heat although fought back to win bronze.

Liam Pitchford
Liam Pitchford is Britain's highest ranked table tennis player

TABLE TENNIS

England's men's table tennis team won a brilliant bronze at the Team World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, their first medal in the event for 33 years.

England were only promoted to the elite division at the previous championships, and were seeded 18th for the tournament.

But the team of Liam Pitchford (world ranked 64), Paul Drinkhall (72) and Sam Walker (159) battled through their group, and then beat Poland and France in the knockout stages before succumbing to Japan in the semi-finals.

"Our realistic goal was to stay up and we didn't really think about getting a medal, it was just a dream," said Walker.

China were hot favourites in both the men's and women's events, and duly won both, beating Japan in the final in each.

TENNIS

Olympic champion Andy Murray was again the hero as Great Britain beat Japan in the first round of the Davis Cup.

Murray, playing for the first time since the birth of his daughter last month, won all three of his rubbers, including a five-set thriller over Kei Nishikori to clinch the 3-1 victory.

Meanwhile, Heather Watson won the Monterrey Open, her third title on the WTA Tour, to move up to 53 in the world rankings.

Jodie Stimpson and Helen Jenkins
Jodie Stimpson and Helen Jenkins are vying for the third spot on GB's Olympic triathlon team

TRIATHLON

Jodie Stimpson laid down an early marker in the race for the final women's GB Olympic spot with victory in the first World Triathlon Series event of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The 25-year-old finished ahead of third-placed Helen Jenkins, who is her rival for a place in Rio.

The final decision on who will join Non Stanford and Vicky Holland in the British team will be made after the next round in Australia in April.

In the absence of British Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee, Spain's Mario Mola won the men's race.

IN BRIEF

Britain's world road race champion Lizzie Armitstead won the opening race of the new women's UCI World Tour in Tuscany.

Fiji have never won an Olympic medal but they look a good bet to do so in the new sport of rugby sevens - they won round five of the men's World Series in Las Vegas last weekend.

Great Britain announced a 23-strong team for the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland, USA (17-20 March), led by Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford. Reigning world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, who set the second-fastest time of the year in the Czech Republic at the weekend, opted out of selection to concentrate on his Rio preparations.

Former 1500m world champion Abeba Aregawi was provisionally suspended after failing a drugs test, while British Athletics announced that every GB athlete in Portland will be required to sign an agreement to forfeit any future selection if they are found guilty of doping.

Commonwealth super heavyweight champion Joe Joyce was among the winners as Britain's Olympic hopefuls beat the USA 4-1 at York Hall to extend their unbeaten run in the World Series of Boxing to four fixtures.

Unfunded GB synchronised swimming pair Katie Clark and Olivia Federici claimed a place for Great Britain in the 2016 Olympic duet competition after finishing second in the final qualification event in Rio. However, British Swimming and the British Olympic Association (BOA) have still to decide whether Team GB will take up the option of competing in the event.

2012 Olympian Kat Driscoll made an encouraging start to the 2016 trampolining season, winning individual bronze in the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Japan's women's football team, who were runners-up at the 2012 Olympics, have failed to qualify for this summer's Rio Games.

The USA's Olympic champion Gabby Douglas won her first all-around title since London 2012.

Tributes have been paid to Australian rower Sarah Tait, a silver medallist at London 2012, who has died at the age of 33 after a battle with cancer.

Scott Brash's 11-month reign at the top of the show jumping world rankings has come to an end. Frenchman Simon Delestre now tops the rankings ahead of Briton Brash.

Britain's triple world champion swimmer Adam Peaty was nominated for the breakthrough of the year award in the Laureus Sports Awards.

OTHER OLYMPIC NEWS

The IOC have ratified a proposal for a team of refugees to compete at this summer's Olympics in Rio.

IOC president Thomas Bach said he was not concerned that fewer than half of the 7.5 million tickets issued for the Games have been sold.

On the subject of the mosquito-borne virus Zika, the IOC said it continues to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has said that Brazil should be safe during its winter.

And the IOC have ratified the International Boxing Association's rule change that means male boxers will not wear protective headgear at Rio 2016.

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