Basketball: Serbia Wins its 1st Women’s EuroBasket Title.

Serbia won its first ever title and grabbed the all-important Olympic continental berth at the 2015 Women’s EuroBasket. For the first time the tournament was expanded to 20 teams. The tournament was hosted jointly by Hungary and Romania from June 11th to June 28th 2015. The winner of the tournament qualified to the Olympics.

The first group stage round went as expected. France, Belarus and Spain all went undefeated in the round while Russia won the other group. Sadly, but unsurprisingly both host nations did not advance to the next round.

In the second group stage it was the Czech Republic, sixth place in 2013 that fell at this round though that was more due to its tough group and upset loss to Greece with a score of 74-71. The surprise of the round went to Lithuania where 78-74 and 83-64 upset wins over Russia and Croatia respectively placed it second in its group. Going into the quarterfinals Spain remained the final undefeated team.

The quarterfinals had Spain and Belarus expectedly win albeit narrowly against Montenegro and Lithuania respectively. France vs. Russia was a match of two powerful teams where a poor second quarter ultimately cost Russia the game as France won 77-74. The upset of the round belong to Serbia where a dominating third quarter led by tournament MVP Ana Dabović gave Serbia the win over Turkey 75-63.

The semifinals were two close matches where France and Serbia defeated Spain and Belarus respectively. In the final France began the match with a dominating first quarter, but Serbia was able to answer back and took a 33-32 lead going into the half. From there Serbia was able to stay one step ahead of France as they never truly relinquished their lead. In the end they won 76-68. For the bronze medal after a bad start Spain was able to take control of the match to win with ease 74-58.

While only one team from this tournament qualifies to the Olympics teams ranked 2nd to 5th qualified to the final qualification tournament so France, Spain, Belarus and Turkey will all still have a chance to qualify to the Olympics.

Tournament Rankings

  1. Serbia
  2. France
  3. Spain
  4. Belarus
  5. Turkey
  6. Russia
  7. Montenegro
  8. Lithuania
  9. Slovakia
  10. Greece
  11. Czech Republic
  12. Croatia
  13. Latvia
  14. Sweden
  15. Italy
  16. Ukraine
  17. Hungary
  18. Poland
  19. Romania
  20. Great Britain

References

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Water Polo: Serbia Dominance of the Men’s World League Continues With Win

Serbia continued its dominance at the Men’s Water Polo World League by winning its third championship in a row and ninth overall. The World League is an annual competition that pits eight nations from around the world against each other. The 2015 edition was held in Bergamo, Italy from June 23rd to June 28th 2015. The winner qualifies to the Olympics.

The biggest upset at the group stage was Brazil’s win over Croatia. With the Olympics coming soon Brazil built up a lead in the second and third quarters and despite a comeback from Croatia they were unable to catch Brazil, losing 17-10. In the knock-out stage Brazil used its momentum to defeat Australia in a close 9-8 match while the United States upset group A winners Hungary by winning the fourth quarter 2-1 and the overall match 8-7.

The semifinals went as expected as Serbia and Croatia won over Brazil and the United States respectively, setting up a match against two strong rivals. In the finals after a tied first quarter Croatia pulled away in the second quarter and it was 4-2 at the half. Serbia pulled the match back to even in the third quarter setting up a final showdown with only one quarter remaining. Serbia was able to take control of the match winning the quarter with a score of 4-1 and the overall match 9-6. For the third place match Brazil defeated the United States in a lengthy penalty shoot-out 14-13.

While Serbia has been the best team at the World League the gold medal at the Olympics as a separate nation still eludes them, though they have medalled over the past three Olympics. Maybe 2016 will be different for them. The next set of qualifiers for men’s water polo will be at the World Aquatics Championships.

Tournament Rankings

  1. Serbia
  2. Croatia
  3. Brazil
  4. United States
  5. Australia
  6. Hungary
  7. Italy
  8. China

References

FINA. Men’s Water Polo World League 2015. Access on June 28 2015.

Field Hockey: Great Britain Wins Semifinal Event at Women’s World League

Great Britain, China and Germany all qualified to the Olympics from their performance at the first semi-final event for the 2014-15 Women’s Field Hockey World League. The event doubled as an Olympic qualifier for teams which have not qualified from their continental championships. The top 3, with a possible fourth depending on the results from the second semi-final qualifies to the Olympics. The first semi-final event was a 10 team tournament held in Valencia, Spain from June 10th to June 21st 2015.

The group stage was filled with many upsets, the biggest one was 14th ranked Ireland topping group B with 2-0 and 4-1 upsets over United States and South Africa respectively. Spain also had a surprising performance in the group stage as they defeated China 1-0 and tied Argentina 2-2 with a final minute goal by Carlota Petchame.

The quarterfinals however returned things to the expected as Great Britain, Germany, Argentina and China predictably defeated South Africa, Spain, United States and Ireland. The upsets did continue in the semifinals when both Great Britain and China won over Germany and Argentina via one goal games. The final was won by Great Britain where they scored two goals via penalty corners. The bronze medal game was decided from penalty shoot-outs where three misses from Argentina gave Germany the win and the final Olympic spot.

All is not over for Argentina and other nations as continental championships take priority over the World League results. Therefore if any nation in the two semi-final events wins their continental championship their spot from the World League will be reallocated to the next best ranked nation. With that in mind nations placed in fourth or fifth could still have a chance at qualifying through this process. Technically the sixth place nation will also have a chance, but they will require several results to go their way.

Tournament Rankings

  1. Great Britain
  2. China
  3. Germany
  4. Argentina
  5. United States
  6. Spain
  7. South Africa
  8. Ireland
  9. Canada
  10. Uruguay

Reference

Rugby Sevens: France Wins Women’s Grand Prix Sevens

France’s women’s rugby seven team booked its spot to the Olympics after winning the overall title from the Women’s Grand Prix Sevens. The Grand Prix Sevens consisted of two 12 team competitions where nations are given ranking points based on their performance. The first competition was held in Kazan, Russia from June 13th to June 14th 2015 while the second event was held in Malemort, France from June 20th to June 21st 2015. The team with the most points qualified to the Olympics while the second place team qualified to the final Olympic qualifying tournament. While England, Wales and Scotland competed at the grand prix they cannot qualify to the Olympics as Great Britain has already qualified.

The group stage of the first competition went as expected with World Seven Series core teams England, France and Russia winning all of their matches. All three along with fellow core team Spain reached the semifinals. In the end Russia and France powered through Spain and England respectively to reach the final. In the final France took an early lead of 10-7 at the half. Russia however using the points it gained through successful conversions was able to come back and win the first tournament 19-15.

The group stage for the second competition was going as expected until Netherlands upset France in the final game winning, 20-10. The upset caused France and Russia to meet each other in the semifinals. Like in their first match France went into an early lead, leading 14-5 at half-time. However Russia was unable to come back a second time as France won the match 14-10. France met Spain at the final and with Russia winning the third place match France needed to win the tournament if they wanted to qualify to the Olympics. France was able to do just that by shutting out Spain with a score of 20-0.

While Russia just missed out in qualifying to the Olympics they will have another chance at the final qualification tournament. All the other nations that competed at the Grand Prix, minus England, Wales and Scotland will compete at the repechage tournament with other European nations to determine the other three teams that will join Russia at the final qualification tournament.

Grand Prix Rankings

  1. France – 38
  2. Russia – 36
  3. Spain – 32
  4. England – 30
  5. Ireland – 24
  6. Netherlands – 20
  7. Wales – 14
  8. Italy – 9
  9. Ukraine – 8
  10. Portugal – 7
  11. Scotland – 6
  12. Germany – 4

References

Shooting: 12 Nations Qualify After European Games

The final direct qualifier to the Olympics at the inaugural European Games is shooting. The highest ranked non-qualified athlete from each event will be given a spot to compete at the Olympics, provided it does not interfere with the maximum quota a nation can obtain. The 2015 European Games are currently being held in Baku, Azerbaijan and will be held from June 12th to June 28th 2015.

Overall 12 nations qualified an athlete with three qualifying two athletes; France (men’s 50m rifle 3 positions and women’s 50m rifle 3 positions), Russia (men’s trap and men’s double trap) and Switzerland (women’s 10m air rifle and women’s 25m pistol). The European Games was a bit of a relief for Switzerland as the nation had one of the largest number of athletes with the Minimum Qualification Scores (MQS) and not an Olympic quota. With that monkey of their back the only European nation without an Olympic quota, but a large number of MQS athletes is Poland.

The other quotas went to Belarus (women’s 10m air pistol), Germany (men’s 50m rifle prone), Great Britain (women’s skeet), Israel (men’s 10m air rifle), San Marino (women’s trap), Slovakia (men’s 50m pistol), Spain (men’s 25m rapid fire pistol), Sweden (men’s skeet) and Ukraine (men’s 10m air pistol). Notable athletes that qualified their nations were 2004 Olympic gold and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Aleksey Alipov of Russia, 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hornung of Switzerland and 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist Pavlo Korostylov of Ukraine.

The overall competition at the European Games was quite good. Among the Olympic events Italy won the most medals with 2 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze. It was however Serbia that won the most gold medals, winning in four different events. Russia and Germany also won multiple gold medals with two apiece. Overall 20 nations won at least 1 medal including small nations like San Marino (women’s trap).

The next qualifying events for Europe is split. For the non-10m events the next qualifying event will be the European Championships because the 10m events have their own European Championships to be held in 2016. This makes the next competition for the 10m events the ISSF World Cup.

Quotas by Nation

  • France – 2
  • Russia – 2
  • Switzerland – 2
  • Belarus – 1
  • Germany – 1
  • Great Britain – 1
  • Israel – 1
  • San Marino – 1
  • Slovakia – 1
  • Spain – 1
  • Sweden – 1
  • Ukraine – 1

References

Table Tennis: Germany and Netherlands Win Gold At European Games

As the inaugural European Games continue the second sport that offers direct qualification to the Olympics has ended. In table tennis the winner of the men’s and women’s singles qualifies to the Olympics. The 2015 European Games are currently being held in Baku, Azerbaijan and will be held from June 12th to June 28th 2015.

In the women’s event the winner ended up being Li Jiao from the Netherlands. The overall field at this competition was excellent as 9 out of the top 10 European players were all present and the main reason the tenth wasn’t present was because Germany had already sent its maximum quota of two athletes. Li Jiao is currently ranked 35th in the world and was seeded 10th in this competition. On her route for the gold medal she defeated four players ranked higher than her including second seed Liu Jia of Austria and her compatriot Li Jie in the finals. In the finals Li Jiao was able to sweep the match winning all her games 13-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-5. The bronze medal went to Turkey’s Melek Hu.

The men’s tournament had a big shock before the first ball was even played as the second seeded Timo Boll of Germany had to withdraw due to illness. Overall it was the first and third seeds that reached the final where Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, ranked 6th in the world met Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov, ranked 9th in the world. The match was quite interesting as Samsonov took the first two games, but Ovtcharov recovered and won the next two games, tying the match. Samsonov then took the important fifth game, but Ovtcharov countered by winning the sixth leading the finals to be decided by a single game. In the end it was Ovtcharov that pulled through winning that match 11-8. The bronze medal went to Ukraine’s Lei Kou.

The remaining spots for Europe in table tennis will be decided in 2016 plus European players could also qualify via the world rankings so this is far from the end of the road to most players. The European Games will continue for about another week, but the final direct qualification event, shooting is almost over so expect an update of that soon.

Quotas by Nation

  • Germany – 1
  • Netherlands – 1

References

Rugby Sevens: United States Wins Men’s and Women’s NACRA Sevens

The United States showed why it is one of the strongest nations in the North America Caribbean Rugby Association by winning both the men’s and women’s continental championships. The event was held in Cary, United States from June 13th to June 14th 2015. The winner from each tournament qualified to the Olympics.

Since Canada already qualified to the women’s tournament from their performance at the Women’s Rugby Sevens Series the United States became the huge favourite to win as they were the only core team remaining from this continent. Unsurprisingly the United States won all six of its matches with a point difference of 369-5 including a 88-0 win over Mexico in the final.

The men’s tournament was more interesting in the sense that two core teams were competing for one spot. The final, as expected was between Canada and the United States as both teams went undefeated during the group stage and semifinals with a point difference of 204-7 and 204-5 respectively. In the final it was Canada’s defense that let them down as the United States was able to use turnovers made by Canada to jump into a 21-0 lead at the end of the first half. While Canada’s performance was a lot better in the second half it was a bit too late for them to turn the match around as the United States won the match with a score of 21-5.

All is not over for the other nations as the second and third place nations here qualified to the final Olympic qualification tournament. This means the men’s Canada and Mexico teams along with the women’s Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago teams will get one more opportunity to win an Olympic berth.

Men’s Tournament Rankings

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Mexico
  4. Cayman Islands
  5. Guyana
  6. Jamaica
  7. Barbados
  8. Bahamas
  9. Trinidad and Tobago

Women’s Tournament Rankings

  1. United States
  2. Mexico
  3. Trinidad and Tobago
  4. Jamaica
  5. Cayman Islands
  6. Guyana
  7. Bahamas
  8. Barbados

References