Countdown to Rio 2016: Olympic sport this week

THE WEEK AHEAD

ATHLETICS: 17-20 March

Event: World Indoor Championships, Portland, USA

What you need to know: Great Britain won six medals at the last World Indoors, including 60m gold by Richard Kilty, who has opted not to defend his title in order to concentrate on his preparations for Rio.

Who to watch: Olympic champion Greg Rutherford has withdrawn from the GB team leaving world outdoor medallists Tiffany Porter and Shara Proctor as two of the best British medal hopes. Holland’s reigning European indoor 60m champion Dafne Schippers and American decathlon world record-holder Ashton Eaton are among the headline global acts.

ROWING: 21-23 March

Event: GB Olympic trials, Caversham

What you need to know: The trials are a major stepping stone in the process of finalising the GB squad for this season’s World Cup, and ultimately, for Rio.

Who to watch: Before London 2012, GB’s rowing squad was pretty much settled – but four years later there are plenty of questions yet to be answered, such as: where will Katherine Grainger fit into the team, and which men will be in the flagship coxless four crew?

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OTHER EVENTS

Cycling – Road: One-day Milan-San Remo race (19 March) is one of cycling’s five monuments, and British riders Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas are both on the entry list. The UCI Women’s WorldTour reaches the third round with the Trofeo Alfredo Binda – won in the last two years by British world champion Lizzie Armitstead – in Italy (20 March).

Diving: The four-leg annual World Series moves to Dubai (March 17-19), after getting underway in Beijing last week. Having just missed out on an individual 10m platform medal in the opening leg, Tom Daley will be looking for a podium place. Also competing will be double Commonwealth gold medallist Jack Laugher (3m springboard & 3m synchro with Chris Mears), while the promising new synchronised 10m platform pairing of Tonia Couch and Lois Toulson will also feature.

Handball: It’s the final chance to book a spot at Rio at the women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament (18-20 March).

Shooting: The first shotgun World Cup event of the season takes place in the Cypriot city of Nicosia (17-25 March). Great Britain’s contingent is headed by current overall World Cup champions Steve Scott and Amber Hill, and 2015 world championship silver medallist Tim Kneale.

LATEST NEWS

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THOMAS SHINES IN RACE TO THE SUN

Geraint Thomas became only the third British rider to win the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race.

The Welshman, who is set to form part of Team GB’s road race team in Rio, held off a final-day challenge from two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador to join Tom Simpson and Sir Bradley Wiggins as Britons to triumph in the week-long “Race to the Sun”.

ADCOCKS REACH ALL ENGLAND SEMIS

Chris and Gabby Adcock were beaten in the semi-finals of the All England Open Championships, having become the first British players to reach the last four since 2008.

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The world number sevens, who are hoping to become GB’s first badminton players to win an Olympic medal since 2004, were edged out in the last four by Danish fifth seeds Joachim Nielsen and Christinna Pederson in the tournament in Birmingham.

There was also an encouraging performance from Britain’s top men’s doubles pair, Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge, who reached their first quarter-finals at the All Englands.

But Britain’s top-ranked singles players, Rajiv Ouseph and Kirsty Gilmour, both went out in the first round.

Top two seeds Chen Long and Lee Chong Wei were both early casualties in the men’s singles, which paved the way for double Olympic champion Lin Dan to clinch his sixth All England title.

Nozomi Okuhara, who had earlier knocked out world number one Carolina Marin, celebrated her 21st birthday by becoming Japan’s first singles’ winner since 1977 after a long and tense women’s singles final against Wang Shixian of China.

GB DIVERS MAKE SPLASH IN BEIJING

British divers won two medals at the opening leg of the World Series in Beijing.

Tonia Couch and 16-year-old Lois Toulson marked their first international competition together with a silver medal in the women’s synchronised 10m platform, while the fledgling partnership of Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow earned bronze in the men’s equivalent, as they had done at last month’s World Cup.

Daley was edged out of the medals in the individual 10m platform event but said there was a lot more to come ahead of Rio.

China swept all 10 golds on offer, including in the eight Olympic events.

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WHITLOCK ON FORM IN GLASGOW

Pommel horse world champion Max Whitlock kept his Rio preparations on track by winning all-around gold at the 2016 World Cup in Glasgow.

Fellow Briton Dan Purvis took bronze, while four-time Commonwealth gold medallist Claudia Fragapane earned silver in the women’s event..

IN BRIEF

Athletics: The IAAF says Russia must meet required anti-doping standards by May if it is to be allowed to compete in athletics at the Rio Olympics.

Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton needed six stitches after being hit in the head by a falling pole vault bar at the US Indoor Championships in Portland.

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Fencing: British fencer Richard Kruse won gold at the Havana Grand Prix, his first Grand Prix win since 2009. Great Britain have already qualified a men’s team for the Olympic foil event.

Football: Sweden clinched the final place in the 12-team women’s football tournament at the Rio Olympics after a four-way European play-off.

Golf: The Olympic golf test event took place in Rio, albeit with none of the world’s top players taking part. The construction of the course had been dogged by delays but International Golf Federation president Peter Dawson described it as “a terrific golf course”.

Judo: Great Britain won three medals at the judo Olympic test event in Rio – silver for Bekky Livesey and bronze for Commonwealth champion Ashley McKenzie and Chelsie Giles – while Japan won three of the four gold medals on offer.

Modern pentathlon: Britain’s former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Samantha Murray had a disappointing start to her World Cup season, finishing 33rd in the Rio leg (which doubled as the Olympic test event). Fellow Briton Freyja Prentice finished best of the Britons in 17th. Joseph Choong was the top-placed Briton in the men’s event, finishing 13th

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Rugby sevens: New Zealand beat South Africa in the final of the Vancouver leg of the World Series.

Two Russian rugby sevens players have been suspended after testing positive for meldonium.

Sailing: Elliot Willis has been withdrawn from the Great Britain sailing squad for the Rio Olympics due to ongoing treatment for bowel cancer. He had been selected for the Games in September along with 470 partner Luke Patience, who will now attempt to requalify with Chris Grube.

Five more sailors have been selected for Rio, with windsurfer Nick Dempsey to become a five-time Olympian.

Former world champion Pieter-Jan Postma of the Netherlands won the Finn European Championships. In the absence of current world champion Giles Scott, Ben Cornish was the best British finisher, coming fifth.

Shooting: China finished top of the overall medal table at the season-opening pistol and rifle World Cup in Bangkok, claiming half of the 10 gold medals on offer. No Britons were in action.

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Taekwondo: World champion Bianca Walkden began her Olympic year in style, winning gold at the Dutch Open. There were also silver medals for Damon Sansum and Rachelle Booth but Mahama Cho went out at the quarter-final stage. Olympic champion Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad missed the event with minor injuries.

Meanwhile, athletes will be allowed to wear non-white trousers at the Rio Olympics for the first time. Each national association can select one colour, representative of the country, for all their competitors to wear.

Tennis: Maria Sharapova has been provisionally suspended after failing a drugs test at the Australian Open. The 28-year-old Russian won a silver medal in the women’s singles at London 2012.

Triathlon: Britain’s Jodie Stimpson claimed her second victory in two weekends after winning over the shorter sprint distance at the Triathlon World Cup in Australia.

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