Rugby Sevens: South Africa’s Women Power Through to African Title

South Africa continued its dominance of women’s rugby sevens in Africa by winning the 2015 Women’s Rugby Sevens African Championship. The 10 team tournament was split into two groups of five teams where the top two advance to the semifinals. The winner of the tournament was given a spot to compete at the Olympics. The Women’s Rugby Sevens African Championship was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from September 26th to September 27th 2015.

Group A was dominated by South Africa as they went undefeated and did not concede a try. Zimbabwe was the runner-up comfortably defeating their other opponents, but they fell to South Africa in a 33-0 match.

Group B was won by Kenya whom also went undefeated in group play. There was almost an upset early in the group stage as Madagascar pushed Tunisia to the limit. In the end Tunisia won the match 15-12. The other big match was between Tunisia and Kenya where Kenya used the 19-7 win to ultimately win the group.

In the semifinals both South Africa and Kenya won their matches comfortably against Tunisia and Zimbabwe as they won 34-0 and 39-0 respectively to advance to the finals. In the final Kenya became the first team to score a try against South Africa as they took an early lead. The lead was short-lived though as South Africa took control of the match to win and qualify to the Olympics with a score of 31-5. Tunisia won the bronze medal by defeating Zimbabwe 33-0.

While South Africa recently lost its core status for the women’s World Series they will use the next year to improve their fitness and show that they belong among the top nations. For the other three semi-finalists they will all get a second chance to qualify to the Olympics at the final Olympic qualification tournament to be held in 2016.

Tournament Rankings

  1. South Africa
  2. Kenya
  3. Tunisia
  4. Zimbabwe
  5. Madagascar
  6. Senegal
  7. Uganda
  8. Namibia
  9. Botswana
  10. Zambia

References

Cycling Road: Belarus and New Zealand Win Time Trial at Road World Championships

Belarus and New Zealand were the winners in the time trial events at the 2015 Road Cycling World Championships. The 10 highest ranked nations from each gender will be given quotas to compete in the Olympics. The Road Cycling World Championships were held in Richmond, United States from September 19th to September 27th 2015.

The women’s time trial had a 30km distance. The first competitor was 2014 world champion Lisa Brennauer who placed an impressive time of 40:35.13; however she was quickly passed by Netherlands’ Anna van der Breggen whom finished 2.72 seconds faster. She was able to hold onto the lead until the ninth rider as New Zealand’s Linda Villumsen finished with a time of 40:29.87. Villumsen would go to hold onto the lead and win the gold medal. van der Breggen and Brennauer also went on to win silver and bronze respectively.

The top 10 nations that were given an Olympic quota were New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, United States, Belarus, Belgium, Russia, Czech Republic and Canada.

The men’s time trial had a 53.5km distance. Being the third one out Belarus’ Vasil Kiryienka set a fast time of 1:02:29.45 which ended up being good enough to win gold. In fact his performance was so good that only silver medalist Adriano Malori of Italy finished within 10 seconds of his time. Jerome Coppel of France won the bronze medal as he finished 26.62 seconds off Kiryienka’s time.

The top 10 nations that were given an Olympic quota were Belarus, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and United States.

Despite being given quotas to compete in the time trial the nations technically have not qualified any athletes. That is because the time trial is made up of athletes whom qualified in the road race. Should one of these nations fail to qualify in the road race and do not receive a reallocation spot then the quota for the time trial will be given to the next eligible nation whom has qualified athletes to the road race.

Quotas by Nation

  • Australia – 2
  • Belarus – 2
  • Czech Republic – 2
  • Germany – 2
  • Netherlands – 2
  • United States – 2
  • Belgium – 1
  • Canada – 1
  • France – 1
  • Italy – 1
  • New Zealand – 1
  • Poland – 1
  • Russia – 1
  • Spain – 1

References

Volleyball: United States Wins the Men’s World Cup

The United States won for the first time since 1985 at the 2015 Men’s World Cup. The 12 team tournament was held in a round robin format where each team played the other 11 teams over three rounds to determine the world champion. The winner and runner up qualified to the Olympics. The Men’s World Cup was held across six cities of Japan from September 8th to September 23rd 2015.

The first round contained five matches over six days. Two of the biggest matches for this round were between Italy and the United States and between Russia and Poland. The United States defeated Italy in straight sets including a 29-27 win in the third set. While Russia won the first set Poland would go to take the next three to win the match 3-1. Among matches between the other teams despite losing all five of its matches Egypt took three teams, including Japan to five sets before losing. Iran also almost scored an upset against Poland when they took a 2-0 lead, but they failed to win a third set as they lost the match 3-2. After the first round the United States and Poland remained undefeated while Italy and Russia remained behind them with a single loss each.

The three match second round established a hierarchy between the top six of United States, Poland, Russia, Italy, Argentina and Japan over the bottom six as they won almost all of their matches. The lone exception was Iran’s win over Japan. Despite Japan taking a 2-0 lead Iran was able to comeback from the deficit to win the match in a five set thriller. The loss eliminates Japan’s chance from winning the tournament and essentially creates a very specific scenario for them to qualify for the Olympics.

The schedule for the third and final round had the current top six facing off each other in three matches. Among the teams out of contention for the title it was Canada that led the way with three victories to finish in seventh place. Tunisia almost got its first win of the World Cup, but despite being up 2-1 against Egypt they would ultimately lose 3-2 and finish winless.

Among the teams in contention the biggest match of the round was the United States and Poland as both teams were undefeated at that point. While the United States easily won the first set it was Poland who regained their rhythm to win the next three points and grab the all-important win. Russia was dealt with back to back blows as 3-0 losses to Italy and the United States eliminated them from Olympic contention. Going into the final matches it was Poland, the United States and Italy whom were in contention for both the title and Olympic contention.

One of those final matches was between Poland and Italy. After two sets both teams were tied 1-1, but it was Italy who triumphed by winning the match 3-1. This moved Italy above Poland because they had a better sets ratio and left Poland’s Olympic hopes to Argentina defeating the United States. In the end the United States won 3-1 to not only take the second Olympic quota, but to win the World Cup itself.

With both in the Olympics Italy will be hoping to improve its bronze medal from 2012 while the United States will hope to improve from their lackluster quarterfinal defeat. Poland and other nations will have more opportunities to qualify to the Olympics as continental qualifications will begin in 2016.

Tournament Rankings

  1. United States
  2. Italy
  3. Poland
  4. Russia
  5. Argentina
  6. Japan
  7. Canada
  8. Iran
  9. Australia
  10. Egypt
  11. Venezuela
  12. Tunisia

References

Basketball: Spain Wins 3rd Title at Men’s EuroBasket

Spain was able to win its third title over the last four championships at the 2015 Men’s EuroBasket. The 24 team tournament consisted of four groups of six teams where the top four advanced to the round of 16 where it became a single elimination tournament. The two teams which reached the final qualified to the Olympics. EuroBasket 2015 was held in five cities across Europe, namely in Croatia, France, Germany and Latvia from September 5th to September 20th 2015.

Defending champion France led Group A by going undefeated though it wasn’t easy at times as they needed overtime to defeat Finland 97-87 in their first match while Poland made it hard as France only won the match 69-66. One of the surprises of the tournament was Russia’s failure to advance to the round of 16 as they lost four closely contested matches before defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina on the final match.

Group B was considered to be the group of death, but it was Serbia that was triumphant as they went undefeated. There best win was a 80-70 win over Spain and while they needed a last second basket to defeat Germany 68-66 they only increased their victory margin and by the end of the group stage they were considered one of the favourites to win. Germany was the odd team out as an overtime loss to Italy and a failed 76-77 comeback against Spain left them on the outside.

Greece was the star of Group C as a strong fourth quarter against Croatia gave them a 72-70 win as they went undefeated in the group, though they to put the Netherlands away winning by a narrow score of 68-65. Georgia was able to squeeze into the round of 16 as they created one of the largest upsets in the tournament to defeat Croatia 71-58.

While Lithuania may have won Group D they were by far the least impressive group winner. Outside of their 68-49 win over Latvia they required overtime to defeat the Czech Republic 85-81, won by a basket against Ukraine and Estonia and actually were upset 76-74 against Belgium. In a group that turned out to be closely contested it was Latvia, Czech Republic and Belgium that joined Lithuania to the round of 16.

The round of 16 had its mostly expected results as France, Spain, Greece and Italy all advance over Turkey, Poland, Belgium and Israel respectively. Serbia and Lithuania required the fourth quarter to finally put Finland (94-81) and Georgia (85-81) respectively away. Latvia played a strong game overall to upset Slovenia 73-66 while the biggest upset of the round went to the Czech Republic as they easily defeated Croatia 80-59.

While Latvia had a strong start against France in the quarterfinals France was soon able to take over the match for a 84-70 win. Serbia used its strong fourth quarter to put the Czech Republic away to win the match 89-75. Lithuania required overtime against Italy, but proved to be too powerful as the cruised through overtime 16-6 to win 95-85. The match of the round was between Spain and Greece. When it looked as if Spain was about to take control of the match in the second quarter Greece was able to even things back in the third. Spain was able to take a slight lead in the fourth and as hard as Greece tried they were unable to complete the comeback as Spain narrowly won 73-71.

With an Olympic berth and spot in the finals on the line the semifinals had quite the drama. The first semi-final between France and Spain was close up until half-time. In the third quarter France was able to push and maintain a lead as they went up 56-48 going into the final quarter. In the fourth Spain not only caught up, but took the lead with about 2 minutes remaining. France however scored a three pointer to tie things up and force overtime. In overtime Spain took the lead, but France was awarded three free throws which could have tied the match. They however missed all three shot attempts as Spain went to win the match and qualify to the Olympics with a score of 80-75.

The second semi-final between Serbia and Lithuania was also a close match. Lithuania took a lead in the first quarter and stretched it into double digits in the second, but Serbia responded late into the second to close the gap to 35-34 at half-time. Serbia was briefly able to take the lead in the third, but Lithuania was able to reverse the trend and regained the lead going into the fourth. The fourth had Serbia attempting to comeback, coming as close as 1 point from tying, but Lithuania was able to respond every time and booked its spot to the final and the Olympics with a score of 67-64.

In the final Spain had a great start and quickly built up a 19-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Lithuania was able to recover a bit in the second, but another big push by Spain in the third essentially sealed the championship as Spain would go on to win 80-63. France was able to take the bronze medal by defeating Serbia 81-68.

All is not over for the other European teams as teams placed 3rd through 7th will get a second opportunity to qualify at the final Olympic qualification tournaments to be held just before the Olympics begin. Specifically it means France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic will all get another chance to grab one of the final three remaining spots.

Tournament Rankings

  1. Spain
  2. Lithuania
  3. France
  4. Serbia
  5. Greece
  6. Italy
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Latvia
  9. Croatia
  10. Israel
  11. Poland
  12. Slovenia
  13. Belgium
  14. Turkey
  15. Georgia
  16. Finland
  17. Russia
  18. Germany
  19. Macedonia
  20. Estonia
  21. Netherlands
  22. Ukraine
  23. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  24. Iceland

References

Canoeing: 18 Nations Qualify After World Slalom Championships

18 nations qualified boats to the Olympics at the 2015 World Canoe Slalom Championships. In terms of Olympic qualification the top 15 nations in the men’s and women’s K1, the top 10 nations in the men’s C1 and the top 8 nations of the men’s C2 have qualified to the Olympics. The World Canoe Slalom Championships were held in Lee Valley, London, Great Britain from September 16th to September 20th 2015.

The French team of Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche had the fastest time of 92.63 in the first run of the heat round in the men’s C2 event. They along with the top 15 boats qualified to the next round. The second run was won by Germany’s Kai Mueller and Kevin Mueller with a time of 93.13 as the top 5 boats here qualified to the semifinals. The semi-final was won by Great Britain’s David Florence and Richard Hounslow as they were over 2.5 seconds ahead of their nearest competitor with a time of 100.95. The final and gold medal was won by Germany’s Franz Anton and Jan Benezien where they finished with a time of 101.17. The other medals went to France as team Pierre Pico and Hugo Biso and team Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche finished with times of 102.25 and 103.34 respectively.

The nations which qualified to the Olympics in men’s C2 were Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The men’s C2 event was also the qualifier for which three continents will be given a quota in this event at their continental qualifiers. The top three continents were Asia, Europe and Pan America.

In the women’s K1 it was Emily Fer of France whom had the fastest time of 90.95 in the first run of the heat round. In the second run Kimberly Woods of Great Britain with a time of 92.11 along with the top 10 finishers joined the top 20 from the first run to advance to the semifinals. The semi-final was won by Spain’s Maialen Chourraut whom finished the course with a time of 100.87, about 3.5 seconds ahead of Australia’s Jessica Fox. The event was won by Czech Republic’s Katerina Kudejova whom finished with a strong time of 103.62. The silver medal went to Germany’s Ricarda Funk with a time of 105.91 while the bronze went to her compatriot Melanie Pfeifer whom finished with a time of 106.33.

The nations which qualified to the Olympics in women’s K1 were Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Since Brazil qualified at the world championships the host quota will be reallocated to the next best nation here, specifically Italy.

Matej Benus of Slovakia was the top finisher in the first run of the heats in the men’s C1 with a time of 86.42. He along with the top 20 moved forward to the semifinals. The second run was won by Ryan Westley of Great Britain whom finished with a time of 88.91. He and the top 10 moved forward to the semifinals. The semi-final was won by Slovenia’s Benjamin Savsek whom finished just 0.02 seconds ahead of Michal Martikan of Slovakia. The event was won by Great Britain’s David Florence whom finished with a time of 94.32, just 0.04 seconds ahead of Savsek. The bronze medal went to Ryan Westley of Great Britain as he finished with a time of 96.33.

The nations which qualified to the Olympics in men’s C1 were Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States. Since the United States qualified at the world championships the quota that they won at the Pan American Games has been reallocated to Canada because the world championship has a higher priority over the continental qualifier.

The first run of the heats in the men’s K1 was won by New Zealand’s Michael Dawson whom finished with a time of 81.28. Normally only 30 athletes would advance to the semifinals, but Argentina’s Thomas Bersinger is not eligible to qualify to the Olympics thus 31st place finisher Martin Halcin of Slovakia also advanced to the semifinals. The second run was won by Poland’s Maciej Okreglak whom finished with a time of 82.79. He and the top 10 advanced to the semifinals. The semi-final was won by Czech Republic’s Ondrej Tunka whom finished just ahead of his compatriot Jiri Prskavec. Prskavec was able to move up one more spot to win the event with a time of 88.99. He was clearly ahead of second place Mateusz Polaczyk of Poland and third place Michal Smolen of the United States as they finished with times of 89.43 and 92.01 respectively.

The nations which qualified to the Olympics in men’s K1 were Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States. Since the United States qualified at the world championships the quota that they won at the Pan American Games has been reallocated to Brazil. Brazil’s host quota was then reallocated to the next best boat at the Pan American Games, which was Canada. However, since a nation can only qualify two athletes from continental qualification it means Canada must decide which two boats between the men’s K1, men’s C1 and women’s K1 they will send while the other quota will be reallocated to the next best boat at the Pan American Games.

With over three quarters of the boats known the field for canoe slalom has taken shape. While Pan America has already held its continental championships the final spots will be revealed at the other four continental championships to be held between now and just before the Olympics begin.

Boats by Nation

  • Czech Republic – 4
  • France – 4
  • Great Britain – 4
  • Germany – 4
  • Poland – 4
  • Russia – 4
  • Slovenia – 4
  • Slovakia – 4
  • Japan – 3
  • Australia – 2
  • Austria – 2
  • Italy – 2
  • New Zealand – 2
  • United States – 2
  • Azerbaijan – 1
  • Brazil – 1
  • China – 1
  • Spain – 1

Athletes by Nation

  • Czech Republic – 5
  • France – 5
  • Great Britain – 5
  • Germany – 5
  • Poland – 5
  • Russia – 5
  • Slovenia – 5
  • Slovakia – 5
  • Japan – 3
  • Australia – 2
  • Austria – 2
  • Italy – 2
  • New Zealand – 2
  • United States – 2
  • Azerbaijan – 1
  • Brazil – 1
  • China – 1
  • Spain – 1

References

Sailing: China and Singapore Qualify Boats After Qingdao World Cup

China and Singapore split the Olympic quotas at the 2015 Qingdao Sailing World Cup. While nations from around the world were allowed to participate at the World Cup this event was to be the Asian qualifiers for the men’s Finn, men’s 470, women’s 470 and the Nacra17. The highest ranked Asian team not yet qualified from the four events will be given a spot to compete at the Olympics. The fifth stage of the Sailing World Cup was held in Qingdao, China from September 16th to September 20th 2015.

While 10 boats participated in the men’s Finn nine of them were from China while the other was from Iran. Iran’s Ahmad Ahmadi was never a threat for the quota spot as he ultimately finished in 8th. The fight for which Chinese athlete would win their nation the quota was intense. At first it looked as if Lei Gong would win it easily, but back to back scores of 11 due to an On Course Side penalty and Did Not Enter penalty placed him back, even after one of the scores was dropped. He Chen looked as if he would win, but he also suffered two 11 point penalties from infractions. This left Luwen Shen as the only sailor without major penalties. However, despite receiving the 11 point penalty Lei Gong won 6 out of the 9 races, including the medal race and with Luwen Shen finishing the medal race in fourth it gave Lei Gong a 1 point win and the gold medal. Xin Li won the bronze medal. Regardless of who won it is still up to China to choose who will represent them at the Olympics.

Since Japan previously qualified in the men’s 470 China became the big favourite to win the quota place. As the races continued it became a three-way race between Austria’s David Bargehr and Lukas Mahr, China’s Hao Lan and Chao Wang and Spain’s Onan Barreiors and Juan Curbelo Cabrera. While South Korea and Thailand both qualified to the medal race mathematically there was no chance for them to catch China for the Olympic quota. In the medal race China’s second place finish and Austria’s fourth place finish gave China a one point win for the gold medal. Spain finished closely behind for the bronze medal.

Both China and Japan already qualified in the women’s 470 as they dominated the competition by taking up nine out of the ten spots for the match race. Despite never winning a race Japan’s Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka were by far the most consistent sailors as they easily won gold in the event. The silver and bronze medals went to Japan’s Akiyo Yamaguchi and Eri Hatayama and China’s Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao. The Olympic quota came down to Malaysia’s Nuraisyah Jamil and Norashikin Sayed and Singapore’s Priscilla Low and Shu Xian Lee. In the end both nations finished tied with 76 points. The tiebreaker goes to the boat with the best score which they both tied again. The tie was broken on their second best score as Singapore had an 8th place finish over Malaysia’s 9th place finish and thus Singapore was given the Olympic quota.

The Nacra17 was dominated by Singapore’s pair Justin Liu and Denise Lim as they won 9 out of the 13 races in the event. Their Olympic quota however was not secured until after the match race as both China’s Zijin Wen and Rubei Yuan and Hong Kong’s Tat Choi Fang and Yu Ting Chan could mathematically catch them. However by winning the match race they finish 18 points ahead of China while a poor race by Hong Kong left them 29 points behind Singapore.

This was the final opportunity for Asian nations to qualify in the Nacra17, but for the other three boats they can still qualify through the respective world championship events to be held later this year. As for the continental qualification for the other six boats the qualifiers will occur at the ASAF Cup to be held in 2016.

Boats by Nation

  • China – 2
  • Singapore – 2

Athletes by Nation

  • Singapore – 4
  • China – 3

References

Table Tennis: Egypt Wins Double Gold in Singles at All-Africa Games

Egypt showed they are still one of the best African nations by winning gold in both the single events at the table tennis event at the 2015 All-Africa Games. The All-Africa Games are a multi-sport continental games for the nations of Africa. Only table tennis offered direct qualification to the Olympics. The top four highest ranked men and women in the single events qualified to the Olympics, with a maximum of two athletes per nation. The All-Africa Games were held from September 2nd to September 19th 2015 in Brazzaville, Congo. The table tennis events at the All-Africa Games were held from September 10th to September 19th 2015.

As expected from the top nations of Africa the quarterfinals for both the men’s and women’s singles were made up of athletes representing Congo, Egypt and Nigeria. In the women’s singles with four athletes in the semifinals Egypt was looking as if they would grab the two maximum spots. They were able to accomplish this with their two top seeded athletes as Dina Meshref and Nadeen El-Dawlatly defeated Nigeria’s Offiong Edem (4-2) and Cecilia Akpan (4-0) respectively. Not everything was bad for Nigeria as Olufunke Oshonaike booked her spot by defeating Yousra Helmy of Egypt 4-2. The fourth Olympic quota went to Congo’s Han Xing as she defeated Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz 4-1. The final became an all-Egyptian affair when Meshref and El-Dawlatly defeated Han (4-2) and Oshonaike (4-2) respectively. Despite losing the first game it was Meshref whom defeated her compatriot, winning the gold medal with a score of 4-1. Congo took the bronze when Han defeated Oshonaike 4-1.

In the men’s singles Egypt again was able to reach the maximum quotas as Omar Assar and Khalid Assar defeated Congo’s Saheed Idowu (4-0) and Nigeria’s Ojo Onaolapo (4-1) in the quarterfinals respectively. Unseeded Wang Jianan was the upset of the tournament as he defeated multiple seeded players to reach the semifinals and an Olympic berth by defeating Nigeria’s Segun Toriola 4-1. The final Olympic spot went to Quardi Aruna of Nigeria whom defeated Ahmed Saleh of Egypt 4-1. The top two seeded athletes reached the final though Omar Assar needed all seven games to defeat Wang Jianan 4-3. Aruna defeated Khalid Assar 4-0 to book his spot to the final. In the final Omar Assar won the first two games, but things looked to turn around when Aruna won the third set 18-16. However, Omar Assar regained his composure to finish off the game to win the gold medal 4-1. The bronze medal went to Wang Jianan whom defeated Khalid Assar 4-3.

Athletes from Africa will have one more opportunity to qualify to the Olympics at the African qualification tournament to be held in 2016. Also by qualifying two athletes Egypt has taken an early lead in the race for the team quota as number of athletes qualified is the first priority; though expect Nigeria and even Congo to make things a bit harder for Egypt by the end of the African qualification tournament.

Quotas by Nation

  • Egypt – 4
  • Congo – 2
  • Nigeria – 2

References