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The more the Twins keep piling up wins, the more they get their due. After spending two weeks perched at No. 5, this week they've risen up to No. 2 on the strength of two first-place votes. Thus, Minnesota has marked itself as the latest threat to the Astros, our reigning No. 1 the past two weeks and the only team to be No. 1 since Opening Day so far besides the Dodgers -- one of the clubs the Twins leap-frogged to reach their highest point yet.

Although the Twins' gains were the most significant at the top of our rankings, they didn't make the biggest leap. That honor goes to the Oakland A's after they rode their (still live) nine-win streak up eight slots to rise to No. 11, just shy of the top 10. While the Indians fell from MLB's top 10 in our voting this week, the Braves were on the rise to take their place.

Not everybody gets to improve, of course. The biggest decline was suffered by the Angels, our latest up-and-down team. Last week, they moved up six slots to No. 14, only to tumble this week to No. 21 after suffering a 2-4 week playing against the Twins and Rangers. With their pitching staff in disarray, is a place in the bottom 20 the destiny of Mike Trout's team?

For Week 8, our panel of voters was composed of Bradford Doolittle, Christina Kahrl, Eric Karabell, Tim Kurkjian and David Schoenfield.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

1. Houston Astros

2019 record: 35-19
Week 7 ranking: 1

The Astros have the depth to survive an injury or two, even to a star player. Still, it was welcome news that George Springer's hamstring injury seems to have not been as bad as initially feared. While Springer sits out, Houston should welcome Jose Altuve back to the lineup. Altuve just went out on a rehab stint. Meanwhile, Houston keeps on punishing fools with their arms and their bats. Can you imagine what this club will look like if we hit a point where everyone is healthy and productive at the same time? -- Bradford Doolittle

ICYMI: How Brantley, MLB's best FA bargain, could swing World Series


2. Minnesota Twins

2019 record: 36-16
Week 7 ranking: 5

After achieving nary an eight-homer game in the past 55 seasons, the Twins have done it twice already in 2019. Before June! Everyone talks about the impressive offense, but Minnesota's pitching has surprised. Jose Berrios was a given; lefty Martin Perez, entering the season with a 4.63 career ERA, was not. With a new and dominating cutter he throws one-third of the time, Perez is 7-1 with a 2.98 ERA. -- Eric Karabell

ICYMI: How Twins' Trevor May is unifying traditional sports and esports


3. Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 record: 35-18
Week 7 ranking: 2

Cody Bellinger leads the NL in WAR, Alex Verdugo leads all NL rookies in WAR, and Hyun-jin Ryu leads the NL in ERA and wins. No team has ever swept all three postseason awards. Could this year's Dodgers be the first? -- Sam Miller

ICYMI: Verdugo's enthusiasm keeps Dodgers charged up


4. New York Yankees

2019 record: 34-18
Week 7 ranking: 4

In their seven-game winning streak -- snapped Sunday -- the Yankees scored at least six runs in every game and averaged 8.5. Meanwhile, only two-thirds of their injury updates this week were bad news, which feels a little like progress. -- Miller

ICYMI: B-team bombers? Backups bid to equal 2018 Yankees' historic HR pace


5. Chicago Cubs

2019 record: 30-21
Week 7 ranking: 3

Here's a category that is exponentially more important for NL teams than AL: bench hitting. Through Saturday, the Cubs had 133 plate appearances by players off the bench this season. Only one of them has resulted in a home run, hit by Albert Almora Jr. on April 25. The Phillies are the only other NL team with one or fewer homers off the bench; every other team has at least three. That might remind you of Tommy La Stella, who was Joe Madden's top bench hitter the past few years. Now with the Angels, La Stella has hit 12 of his 22 career homers in the first two months of this season. -- Doolittle

ICYMI: Why PECOTA projections were so wrong about the Cubs


6. Tampa Bay Rays

2019 record: 31-19
Week 7 ranking: 6

Not that we should have doubted it, but Tampa Bay's pitching staff is for real. After leading the majors with a 2.95 staff ERA in the March/April period, Rays pitchers have followed with a 2.99 mark in May. That's third in the majors for the month, trailing just that of the Twins and Dodgers. Good, deep and consistent? Those are solid traits for a postseason-worthy pitching staff. -- Doolittle

ICYMI: Lowe among prospects ready to help win right now?


7. Boston Red Sox

2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 8

Rafael Devers is starting to live up to his billing as a breakout candidate after a bit of a slow start, at least in the power department. In 20 games since May 3, when Devers hit his first home run of the season, he has a slash line of .375/.415/.682, with six doubles, seven homers, 20 runs scored and 20 RBIs. In that span, he has raised his OPS for the season from .748 to .901. -- Steve Richards


8. Philadelphia Phillies

2019 record: 31-22
Week 7 ranking: 9

The bullpen -- and manager Gabe Kapler's unorthodox handling of it -- continues to make headlines. Right-hander Hector Neris seems safe and reliable, and lefty Adam Morgan has performed well, but sans the most expensive and injured bullpen pieces (David Robertson, Tommy Hunter), others have underwhelmed, and depth has suffered. Look for the Phillies to be in the market for reinforcements. -- Karabell


9. Milwaukee Brewers

2019 record: 30-24
Week 7 ranking: 7

The Brewers opened the season with three big-armed, young pitchers in their rotation, and all three struggled out of the gate. While Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes have been shifted to the bullpen to find themselves, Brandon Woodruff has emerged as Milwaukee's best starting pitcher with a strong run. Woodruff is 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his past six outings, with 43 strikeouts and eight walks over 38 innings. For good measure, he also rakes, with a .874 OPS so far this season. -- Doolittle

ICYMI: Yelich and reimagining the 'five-tool player' in 2019


10. Atlanta Braves

2019 record: 30-24
Week 7 ranking: 12

Ronald Acuna Jr.'s first 162 games -- he played in No. 163 on Saturday -- produced 37 homers, 21 steals, a .289/.367/.533 line and 6.5 WAR. Your favorite team will draft amateur players next month who are older than he is. -- Miller

ICYMI: Braves embrace Austin Riley, power prodigy


11. Oakland Athletics

2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 19

Starting pitching set the stage for the A's nine-game win streak, as they put up a 2.21 ERA and seven quality starts in their past 10 games (counting last weekend's suspended game). Leading the way is Frankie Montas, who ranks third in the AL and fifth in the majors with a 2.40 ERA, thanks to the addition of a splitter that has helped him cut his OPS against lefties from an unstartable .995 before this season to .700 this season. -- Christina Kahrl

ICYMI: The legend of Laureano's laser: How the A's outfielder went viral


12. St. Louis Cardinals

2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 11

The Cardinals' 7-16 record in May is the NL's worst in the month, and they are the only team in baseball that can claim four starting pitchers with at least nine starts for an ERA greater than 4.20. The Cardinals bumped Michael Wacha (5.59 ERA in nine starts) from the rotation, and though they'll probably utilize a temporary fix to fill his spot in the short term, Alex Reyes, who tossed five strong innings while routinely flashing a 97 mph fastball for Class-A Palm Beach on Thursday, could soon provide a spark. -- Tristan Cockcroft


13. Cleveland Indians

2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 10

If not for winning three of four games against the Orioles earlier this month, the Indians' May would be even uglier than it has been, with them losing six of seven games against the A's and Rays. Between this week's series against the Red Sox and White Sox and next week's homestand against the Twins and Yankees, the matchups don't get any easier. Seeing their bad run get worse could trigger the teardown many expect by the trade deadline. -- Kahrl

ICYMI: Injured Indians create a Cleveland conundrum


14. Arizona Diamondbacks

2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 13

After scoring 12 total runs in losing five in a row, the D-backs broke out in a big way with a three-game sweep at San Francisco, outscoring the Giants 34-8. In the sweep, the top three hitters in Arizona's lineup hit a combined .447/.469/.830 with 16 runs and 16 RBIs. Ketel Marte led the way with three home runs, leaving him two shy of his career high of 14. -- Richards


15. San Diego Padres

2019 record: 28-25
Week 7 ranking: 15

Padres pitching stepped up in a big way last week, getting five wins in a row and five quality starts from their starters while going 4-for-4 converting save chances. They're going to need to maintain that kind of momentum at Yankee Stadium, but closer Kirby Yates is one of their few pitchers with any experience at that venue, having made 41 appearances for the 2016 Yankees. He has retired 16 consecutive batters, 11 via strikeout, and could be the difference against his former team. -- Cockcroft

ICYMI: Will Pads give Urias a chance to help them win now?


16. Pittsburgh Pirates

2019 record: 25-25
Week 7 ranking: 16

Seeking to plug a pair of holes in their patchwork rotation, the Pirates used an "opener" three times in their past eight games and will need to do so again multiple times in key division games this week. The Pirates have a ghastly 5.91 team ERA in May, but help is on the way: Mitch Keller, whose five wins, 3.45 ERA and 27.6 percent strikeout rate rank among the Triple-A International League's top six, will make his big league debut for them on Monday. -- Cockcroft

ICYMI: Josh Bell on adjustments to become a premium slugger


17. Texas Rangers

2019 record: 25-25
Week 7 ranking: 22

An 8-3 surge pushed Texas back above .500, with starting pitching (surprise!) playing a key role. Over that 11-game stretch, Rangers "starters" -- we're including Adrian Sampson in this group, as he has been following an opener his previous two turns -- had a 2.48 ERA, allowing two earned runs or fewer 10 times, with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks over 61⅔ innings. -- Richards


18. Cincinnati Reds

2019 record: 24-28
Week 7 ranking: 18

The Reds have done an effective job of nailing down ninth-inning leads, thanks to the performance of closer Raisel Iglesias. Since speaking up about his usage on May 6 -- he voiced a preference to be used as a traditional finisher -- the right-hander has eight consecutive scoreless appearances and is a perfect 5-for-5 converting his save chances. -- Cockcroft


19. New York Mets

2019 record: 26-26
Week 7 ranking: 17

With so much controversy surrounding the team, whether it is the manager or the injuries or the utilization of the closer, let us focus on a positive: Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso is the lone Met with double-digit home runs, and he leads the team in runs and RBIs. No MLB rookie can match these numbers. Alonso appears to be the league leader in becoming the sixth Met to win NL Rookie of the Year honors. -- Karabell

ICYMI: Passan: Why the Mets are a mess, again


20. Colorado Rockies

2019 record: 24-27
Week 7 ranking: 20

It was a distressing statement upon the Rockies' season that they barely scratched out two wins against the Orioles and dropped Saturday's contest. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story have been carrying the offense, but the team has gotten precious little production elsewhere from the lineup. -- Cockcroft


21. Los Angeles Angels

2019 record: 23-28
Week 7 ranking: 14

Right-handers Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey were scheduled for starts at Oakland and Seattle, but then the latter hit the injured list with a strained ERA. Seriously, the Angels must do better than these guys, with a combined 6.96 ERA, but they lack major-league-ready replacements in the minors. Mike Trout is doing what he can, but he is not a pitcher. -- Karabell

ICYMI: Tommy La Slugger: How La Stella found his power stroke


22. Washington Nationals

2019 record: 22-31
Week 7 ranking: 21

The 1930 Phillies had a bullpen ERA of 8.03. Fourteen pitchers made at least one relief appearance, and none had an ERA lower than 5.00 in the role, with batters collectively hitting .371/.426/.525 against the pen. Why bring them up? Those 1930 Phillies are the only thing keeping these Nationals relievers from the worst bullpen ERA of all time (currently 7.25). -- Miller

ICYMI: GM says manager Martinez safe with 'a lot of season left'


23. Chicago White Sox

2019 record: 23-29
Week 7 ranking: 24

The White Sox's lineup was acceptably potent in the early going, but the past week-plus has seen a decline that in retrospect was all but inevitable. Through May 13, Chicago ranked a middling 17th with a .742 team OPS, but led the majors with a robust .320 team BABIP that, once adjusted for park and league, was among the highest of all time. Since then, that number has been a more pedestrian .295. Playing the Astros and Twins on the road might have something to do with this. -- Doolittle


24. Seattle Mariners

2019 record: 23-32
Week 7 ranking: 23

During their 13-2 start, the Mariners stole 17 bases. In going 10-30 since then, they've stolen just 15, and this week, team leader Dee Gordon went on the injured list. That isn't even among the top 50 reasons the Mariners have collapsed, but as a microcosm for a team that seemingly flipped its switch from 45 RPM to 33 in mid-April, it works. -- Miller


25. San Francisco Giants

2019 record: 21-31
Week 7 ranking: 25

Mound misery isn't just an Orioles thing. The Giants' pitching staff has been coming apart at the seams over the past month, surrendering double digits in runs an NL-worst seven times in their 25 games starting since April 28 and seven or more runs in 12 games to total an MLB-worst 173 runs allowed and an NL-worst 47 home runs in that time.

ICYMI: Yaz's grandson makes MLB debut with Giants


26. Toronto Blue Jays

2019 record: 21-32
Week 7 ranking: 26

It seems that the future is now in Toronto. First, it was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., then Cavan Biggio, who had his first home run among the first three hits of his career Sunday. How about Bo Bichette, the third member of the Jays' second-generation prospects? He's just beginning a hitting progression in his recovery from a broken hand, so his debut is still a ways off. -- Richards

ICYMI: Five first impressions from watching Vladdy Jr.


27. Kansas City Royals

2019 record: 18-34
Week 7 ranking: 28

Opening Day starter Brad Keller offered hope for the future in his recent outing by tossing seven innings of two-hit, two-run ball against the Cardinals. Prior to that, Keller's six most recent outings failed to register as quality starts. He has permitted just three home runs in 11 starts, but walks are a problem. The rebuilding Royals need to see if Keller, Jakob Junis and Jorge Lopez can be future rotation pieces, but so far, there is little clarity. -- Karabell


28. Detroit Tigers

2019 record: 19-31
Week 7 ranking: 27

If Nicholas Castellanos is going to have much value to the Tigers as a bargaining chip at the trade deadline, he's going to have to start producing at the plate. Sunday's home run, just his fifth of the season, was a step in the right direction, but he's putting up his worst hitting numbers since 2015 in his walk year before free agency. -- Kahrl


29. Miami Marlins

2019 record: 16-34
Week 7 ranking: 30

Sweeping the Tigers last week to run their win streak to six could end up being the season highlight for the Marlins; it was certainly enough to get them out of the basement of our rankings. Unfortunately, they capped that by losing three straight to the Nationals. Same old Marlins? We'll see, though moving Brian Anderson back to third base in the latest reshuffle of the outfield bodes well for the infield defense. -- Kahrl


30. Baltimore Orioles

2019 record: 16-37
Week 7 ranking: 29

By losing 10 of 11 entering Saturday, the Orioles took their rightful place at the very bottom of the MLB standings. As bad as the O's were last year (47-115 for those with strong constitutions), their record through 53 games this year is one game worse. -- Richards

ICYMI: Ranking O's first 100 HRs by how much they hurt

Masters mile records fall in Westminster

Published in Athletics
Sunday, 26 May 2019 23:09

Olympic marathoner Alyson Dixon is among winners, while Angela Copson breaks W70 best in London

It’s only in recent years that the British Masters Athletic Federation (BMAF) have recognised mile records on the road and it has taken a while for this event to reach the quality of other British Masters road championships. But this year at the Vitality Westminster Mile it surpassed it and was arguably one of the best masters road championships in history over any distance despite quite breezy conditions along Birdcage Walk in the crucial second half of the race.

In terms of numbers the women’s entry was disappointing with just 45 finishers but the quality was exceptional.

On an otherwise bad day for Sunderland, with their disappointment in the football, everything went to plan for Alyson Dixon (pictured above).

The Olympic marathoner has only recently shown her intentions of taking up ultra-running, and she has not run a 1500m or mile at this pace for a decade. Her expected 5:00 time looked very optimistic.

However, after going through the slightly downhill wind-assisted first 400m well inside 75 seconds in the company of last year’s first two Charlene Jacobs-Conradie and Clare Elms, she pushed on ahead and at the finish she won in 5:02 on gun time and 5:01 on chip and that gave her the British W40 title by around 40 metres.

She had no time to enjoy her victory as the very next race was the Olympians event and she rushed to the start half a mile away and there she ran 5:27 to be the leading woman.

Just as last year, Elms and W40 Jacobs-Conradie crossed the line together with both given the same 5:09 chip and 5:10 gun time with Elms getting the official verdict in second.

Elms’ time was significantly faster than the official world outdoor W55 record on the track of 5:17.37 by Silke Schmidt and easily a world best, though there are no official world master’s records away from the track but it was an official UK best, bettering Jane Clarke’s 5:38 by almost half a minute.

Elms run picked up 103.3% on age-grading but that was the not the highest of the race.

72-year-old Angela Copson scored an astonishing 107.2 per-cent as she ran 6:27 on chip and 6:30 on gun. That too bettered the world track record (6:38.30) by Sharon Gerl, was an unofficial world best and it decimated the previous UK road mark of Pat Gallagher (7:31) by a minute.

Other BMAF women’s winners were W35 Helen Southcott (5:54 gun, 5:51 chip) W45 Nikki Sturzaker (5:37, 5:36 chip), W50 Lisa Thomas (5:40, 5:38), W60 Anna Garnier (6:29, 6:27), W65 Ros Tabor (6:56, 6:59) and W75 Ann Gray (9:12. 9:09).

The latter is the mother of British Masters M40 and M45 record-holder Anthony Whiteman and he instead ran in the Olympians race which he won in a race record 5:00. Whiteman retired last year from competitive running but did a few sessions in preparation.

Had he run in the master’s mile that time would only have got him 36th position as around 200 men battled for medals.

The race started very fast but most runners paid for their indiscretion and it was M40 Craig Sharp who finished the fastest to win in 4:33 (chip 4:32).

Sharp’s daughter Chloe was second in the under-20 women’s mile.

The Central Park athlete finished just ahead of M35 Dave Williams (4:33), M40 Mick Hill (4:35, 4:34 chip) and M45 winner Simon Coombes in 4:37 (4:35).

Close behind came M50 winner Mark Symes. The world masters indoor and outdoor champion got the same times as Symes and that gave him a British M50 record to better Andrew Ridley’s 4:44.

The other British record-setter Nigel Gates has been setting records for 25 years and the M65 ran 5:20 (5:18 chip) to remove Pete Molloy’s 5:27 from the record books.

Runner-up Dave Bedwell, who set a M65 indoor record for the mile this winter, also beat the old record with a 5:25 (5:23).

Other age group winners were M55 Tony Tuohy 5:00 (4:58), M60 Paul Fletcher 5:12 (5:10), M70 Richard Bloom 6:44 (6:39), M75 Ken Chapman 8:07 (8:02), M80 Doug Milsom 7:58 (7:55) and M85 Richard Pitcairn-Knowles 10:58 (10:51).

Symes easily won the men’s age-graded award with 92.5% from Gates 91.9%.

Revised UK mile masters records

Men
M35 James Thie 4:09 Cardiff 2014
M40 Anthony Whiteman 4:08 London 2015
M45 Anthony Whiteman 4:08 London 2017
M50 Mark Symes 4:37 London 2019 (4:35 chip)
M55 John Thomson 4:48 Markinch 2014
M60 Martin Rees 5:00 Cardiff 2014
M65 Nigel Gates 5:20 London 2019 (5:18 chip)
M70 Brian James 5:47 Ealing 2017
M75 Victor Shirley 6:16 Scunthorpe 2018
M80 Edmond Simpson 7:38 Cardiff 2017
M85 Eric Shirley 9:29 London 2016

Women
W35 Helen Clitheroe 4:39 Newcastle 2010
W40 Helen Clitheroe 4:35 London 2014
W45 Clare Elms 5:00 Battersea 2010
W50 Clare Elms 5:16 London 2018 (5:13 chip)
W55 Clare Elms 5:10 London 2019 (5:09 chip)
W60 Breege Nordin 6:06 London 2016
W65 Ros Tabor 6:15 London 2015
W70 Angela Copson 6:30 London 2019 (6:27 chip)
W75 Anne Martin 7:39 Cardiff 2014
W80 Ruth Anderson 10:16 South Shields 2015

In the British Olympic race, behind Whiteman other athletes in the men’s race included Les Morton (6:03), Ray Smedley (6:48), Tom Buckner (6:53), Dave Long (7:02), Ian Richards (7:21), Rod Milne (7:49), Phil Brown (10:49) and Martin Reynolds (11:20).

The leading women were Dixon (5:27), Shireen Bailey (6:26), Jo Jennings (7:36), Donna Fraser (8:24), Stephanie Douglas (8:25), Joslyn Hoyte-Smith (10:48), Paula Dunn and Louise Fraser (13:55), Simone Jacobs and Lorna Boothe (14:09) and Wendy Hoyte (17:26).

AW publisher Wendy Sly ran a time of around eight minutes but was not in the official results.

Elite senior and junior race coverage can be found here.

A seventh success for Farah as Twell impresses with PB performance, while Shelly Woods and Danny Sidbury win wheelchair races

Mo Farah and Steph Twell successfully defended their Vitality London 10,000 titles on a sunny morning in the UK capital, with Farah securing a seventh success at the event and Twell impressing with a PB.

Back in action just four weeks after his fifth place in the Virgin Money London Marathon, Farah claimed a clear win on his return to The Mall as he crossed the finish line in front of Buckingham Palace in 28:15 for a clear win ahead of Andy Butchart who ran 28:28 and Nick Goolab who clocked 28:47.

Twell was an even more dominant winner as she improved her personal best run in Brighton in April by two seconds, running 31:55 to finish 38 seconds ahead of Jess Piasecki, with Verity Ockenden a further six seconds behind in third as the top three all ran lifetime bests.

In the men’s race, Farah, Butchart and Goolab broke away early on before the in-form Belgrave Harrier Goolab edged ahead to lead through 5km in 14:08.

He was dropped by the time Farah and Butchart passed 7km in around 19:48 and in the final couple of kilometres Farah was on his own as he kicked on for a 13-second victory.

“He was trying to beat me,” the 10-time global track gold medallist said on the challenge of Butchart, who missed the 2018 summer season because of a broken foot. “When we were on the start line he was like ‘I want to take you down!’ He tells me to my face. He’s being honest and I like that.

“You’ve got to be determined, you’ve got to be willing to work hard and he does that.

“I did the marathon, took a bit of a break and he knew that I am in hard training so he was pushing.”

Scotland’s Butchart had proved his form by running a 5000m World Championships qualifying time of 13:18.16 earlier in the month and was pleased with his return to road race action.

“I’m happy with that. It’s nice to come on to the road again,” said Butchart, a two-time winner of the event with victories in 2016 and 2017. “It was a hard race against Mo, it always is, but I’m happy with second place and my time.

“I had a race plan to try and beat Mo today with surges and to try and make it hard from the gun and throughout the race. He did say after that I was working him but it’s hard to beat Mo at 10km, no one has done it in ages.”

Goolab was racing on tired legs, having run 4:05 for fourth in the previous day’s Vitality Westminster Mile, and finished a clear third ahead of Ben Connor with 29:07 and Saturday’s BMC Manchester 5000m winner Petros Surafel in 29:16.

“As soon as the race went off my legs were exhausted straight away,” said Goolab, who leads the UK 10km rankings with his PB of 28:22 from Brighton in April.

“I just tried to hang with the guys as long as I could. I tried my best and I still managed to finish third, so that’s not bad.”

Twell also had a busy weekend as she too raced the mile and became a world record-holder, having clocked 4:50 while holding hands with her husband Joe Morwood for a Guinness world record.

Running alone this time but in the company of strong male club runners, the European and Commonwealth medallist went through 5km in 15:33 as she made the most of the crowd support and finished strongly for a PB.

“I’m feeling delighted that I’m the British 10km road champion,” said Twell. “It’s been a fantastic weekend. It’s a fast course out there.

“I knew I was in PB shape but I much prefer the bigger occasions. Today, when I’m running in there with the guys, running hard and strong and with an atmosphere like that, I lapped it up and that’s where I want to be. I’m hoping that’s a good step for my spring build up.”

Racing for the first time since the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Piasecki ran 32:33 to improve on her PB of 32:44 from 2015.

“Steph went off and I knew that was too fast for me today so I sat in and waited for everyone to come round and nobody did!” she said. “It’s an 11-second PB so I’m happy with that.”

Ockenden was also delighted with a PB performance as she took almost two minutes off her previous best from 2016 and like Twell and Piasecki now targets the Highgate Night of the 10,000m PBs.

“I didn’t expect to do so well today,” she said, “particularly as I ran the mile as well yesterday.”

Marathoner Tish Jones clocked 33:06 in fourth and Clara Evans 33:20 in fifth.

Danny Sidbury and Shelly Woods completed an elite wheelchair race double as they followed their Westminster Mile victories with 10km wins, clocking 22:32 and 27:25 respectively.

Johnboy Smith and Mel Nicholls claimed the runner-up spots in 23:21 and 28:08.

In the later rounds of the cadet girls’ singles event, the 15 year old accounted for Germany’s Naomi Prankjovic (11-2, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5) and colleague Ami Shirayama (11-7, 11-7, 11-6), prior to securing the title at the final expense of Romania’s Elena Zaharia (7-11, 11-5, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7).

Success in opposition to Ami Shirayama; it was also success in harness with her one year younger colleague. Junior girls’ doubles quarter-finalists earlier in the week, they climbed three steps higher in the cadet girls’ doubles competition; as in the cadet girls’ singles final Elena Zaharia having to settle for the silver medal. In the final Ami Shirayama and Sakura Yokoi emerged successful in four games against Ioana Singeorzan and Elena Zaharia (11-9, 12-10, 5-11, 11-7).

Silver for Romania, in the cadet boys’ singles and cadet boys’ doubles events it was gold.

Darius Movileanu emerged the cadet boys’ singles champion. He account for Germany’s Tom Schweiger at the quarter-final stage (11-6, 11-5, 12-10), prior to overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chuang Chia-Chuan (11-6, 11-6, 11-7) and Vincent Senkbeil, like Tom Schweiger from Germany, to secure the top prize (11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7).

Gold for Darius Movileanu, in the cadet boys; doubles event it was gold for colleagues Andrei Teodor Istrate and Horia Stefan Ursut. At the final hurdle the duo overcame the host nation’s David Kosmal and Milosz Redzimski (11-9, 11-9, 12-10) to secure the title.

“My partnership with David Kosmal was only our third together. I am glad that we can see a lot of progress. Of course it is only possible thanks to hard every day work. I hope that in the July at the European Youth Championship in Ostrava we will have success.” Milosz Redzimski

Play concluded at the 2019 Polish Junior and Cadet Open; in Wladyslawowo attention now turns to the ITTF Para Polish Open which commences on Thursday 30th May, for the ITTF World Junior Circuit, the next stop is Taicang, the China Junior and Cadet Open begins on Wednesday 12th June.

Maybelline Menendez, a bright hope for Ecuador

Published in Table Tennis
Sunday, 26 May 2019 19:11

by Ian Marshall, Editor

After having accounted for Peru’s Jasmin Colque (11-8, 11-6, 11-6), Maybelline Menendez overcame doubles partner from the previous day, Anie Rubio (11-8, 11-6, 11-6) to secure the title; in the penultimate round Anie Rubio having also halted the progress of Peru. She had beaten Luciana Granados (11-8, 11-4, 12-10).

Gold for Maybelline Menendez; for Juan Gonzalez, with whom she had won the mixed doubles title the previous day, it was under 11 boys’ singles silver. Following success in opposition to Colombia’s Sebastian Bedoya (11-9, 11-8, 12-10), the hopes boys’ singles winner at the start of the week, the young Ecuadorian was beaten by Emanuel Otalvaro, also from Colombia (14-12, 11-8, 5-11, 7-11, 11-4). In the counterpart semi-final, Emanuel Otalvaro had ousted Brazil’s Felipe de Lara (8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6).

The third step of the podium for Brazil, in the under 13 boys’ singles event it was both the second and third steps. Leonardo Ilzuka, after enjoying success against colleague Abimail Menezes (11-7, 11-7, 11-7) was beaten by Venezuela’s Yeifrer Soteldo (11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7). In the penultimate round Yeifrev Soteldo had ended the hopes of Chile’s Mariano Perea (11-7, 11-5, 11-7).

Silver and bronze, in the under 13 girls’ singles event, for Brazil it was gold; the full set was completed. Beatrix Kanashiro beat Ecuador’s Maria Borja to claim the top prize (11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6), having at the semi-final stage overcome Peru’s Valentina Zea (11-9,8-11, 3-11, 11-2, 11-5). In the adjacent half of the draw, Maria Borja had ousted Chile’s Constanza Mesas (12-10, 5-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6).

A busy week concluded in the Andes Mountain Range, a host of promising young players; one wonders who in the next decade will climb the heights, who may ascend to the highest peak?

2019 South American Under 11 and Under 13 Championships: Full Results Book (Sunday 26th May)

A total of 32 China Open tournaments have been staged since 1996, the year in which the ITTF World Tour was inaugurated.

In that period of time, on no less than 29 occasions the men’s singles title has been won by a player from China; furthermore, a total of 28 times, the final has been an all Chinese affair. Some records may show that in 1996 in X’ian, Bulgaria’s Feng Zhe was the runner up beaten by Kong Linghui in the final; the fact he was the silver medallist is correct but at the time he was a member of the Chinese national team.

Moreover, only once has a Chinese player lost in the final to a player from foreign shores, the occasion was in 2006 when Wang Liqin was beaten by Germany’s Timo Boll.

Furthermore, Timo Boll is the only player not from China to have appeared in the men’s singles final on more than one occasion. The one other instance was in 2017 in Chengdu when he was beaten by colleague Dimitrij Ovtcharov in one of the strangest finals he must have ever witnessed. In the deciding seventh game, Timo Boll led 10-6, Dimitrij Ovtcharov threw caution to the wind, shut he eyes and promptly won the next six points (17-15, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 6-11, 12-10).

Now in 2019 both are on duty. Timo Boll is the no.5 seed and notably partners Patrick Franziska in the doubles, surely a clue to German thinking with doubles being the opening match in the men’s team event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; meanwhile, Dimitrij Ovtcharov is the men’s singles no.12 seed and is Ricardo Walther’s men’s doubles partner.

Both have impressive comparatively recent performances. In February at the CCB Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux, Dimitrij Ovtcharov beat Timo Boll in the semi-finals, before progressing to secure the title at the final expense of Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, also on duty in Shenzhen. Conversely last October at the Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup in Paris, Timo Boll overcame Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the penultimate round, before losing to China’s Fan Zhendong.

Fine performances but neither brought the house down at the recent Liebherr 2019 World Championships. Worthy efforts but we might have expected more; Dimitrij Ovtcharov was beaten in the third round by Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, one round later when due to face Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, Timo Boll was forced to withdraw through illness.

Read what you wish but both are vastly experienced, past results count for little, Shenzhen is a new challenge, a new venture. The next match is the most important, both are well aware of that fact.

Arresting performances, after accounting for Tahiti’s Ocean Belrose (11-6, 11-8, 11-5, 11-3), Heming Hu overcame colleague Rohan Dhooria (11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8) to seal the title, sinking to his knees in both delight and relief after securing the final point.

In the corresponding semi-final Rohan Dhooria had beaten New Zealand’s Nathan Xu (11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8), the 15 year old eventually finishing in third place; in the bronze medal contest he accounted for Ocean Belrose in six games (11-3, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2).

Authority imposed, authority was even more commandingly imposed by the yesteryear pen-hold grip style of Jian Fang Lay.

After recording a semi-final win against New Zealand’s Zhou Jiayi (11-3, 11-3, 11-1, 11-8), she overcame compatriot Parleen Kaur (11-6, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5) to secure her passport to Chengdu. Third place finished in the hands of Zhou Jiayi, she beat Chen Zhiying, also from New Zealand (5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4), the latter having lost to Parleen Kaur in the penultimate round (11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 11-7).

Meanwhile, in the contests to decide the Pacific Cup champions, the event for which players from Australia and New Zealand are not eligible, Tahiti struck gold. Ocean Belrose won the men’s singles title beating Vanuatu’s Yoshua Shing (3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8), in the counterpart women’s singles event Sally Yee overcame sister Grace Rosi Yee (11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 15-13) to claim the top prize.

Griffith Breaks Through At Thunder Road

Published in Racing
Sunday, 26 May 2019 17:11

BARRE, Vt. – Derek Griffith grabbed his first victory at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl during Sunday’s PASS North super late model event.

The defending PASS National Champion took the top spot for the first time from early leader Derek Ramstrom on lap 71. However, defending PASS North champion and current point leader D.J. Shaw wasn’t far behind.

Griffith and Shaw then went tooth and nail during the race’s middle stages. Shaw got underneath Griffith to put the bumper in front on lap 88, but Griffith used a lap car as a pick two circuits later to get the lead back.

Following the race’s third caution on lap 111 of the 150-lap event, Shaw used a crossover move to get inside for the lead once again. Griffith pulled a similar move a few laps later and pulled away before surviving a five-lap sprint to the finish after one final yellow.

Shaw and Joey Polewarcyk Jr. went back-and-forth following the final restart for the runner-up spot after Northfield’s Evan Hallstrom shut down during the caution while running third. After Polewarczyk initially grabbed the position, Shaw got back by with two laps to go, leaving Polewarczyk in third.

They were chased to the line by Travis Benjamin, Garrett Hall, Gabe Brown, Nick Sweet, Ben Rowe, Reid Lanpher, and Ramstrom.

The finish:

Derek Griffith, D.J. Shaw, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Travis Benjamin, Garrett Hall, Gabe Brown, Nick Sweet, Ben Rowe, Reid Lanpher, Derek Ramstrom, Evan Hallstrom, Bobby Therrien.

Keselowski Edges Bowman In Second Stage At CMS

Published in Racing
Sunday, 26 May 2019 18:05

CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski kept Roger Penske’s strong Sunday going with another convincing stage victory during the second stage of the 60th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Keselowski used fresh tires to power from 11th to first on a seven-lap sprint to the stage break, taking the top spot away from Alex Bowman on lap 199 and running out to a four car-length win in the stage.

The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has now won both stages so far in Sunday night’s race, leading 73 of the first 200 laps on NASCAR’s longest night.

Bowman, who has finished second in the last three Cup Series races, finished second to Keselowski and hopes to break his bridesmaid curse with a victory at the checkered flag that really counts later on.

“We started off pretty bad tonight; we were way too tight,” Bowman admitted. “Greg and the guys have made some really good adjustments to make it better, though, and we’re closer to where we need to be. Right now, we’re a bit free in and a little tight off, but we’re much better and I think we have a shot.”

Kyle Busch crossed the stripe in third, followed by Chase Elliott and polesitter William Byron, giving Hendrick Motorsports three of the top five positions in the stage.

Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson completed the points-scoring drivers inside the top 10 at the second stage break of the night.

Three cautions, all for tire failures, dotted the second stage. Chris Buescher hit the wall in turn four on lap 127, Denny Hamlin tagged the barrier in turn two at lap 161 and Ryan Preece made contact in turn one with 12 laps to go before the second stage break of the night.

Following the caution flag being displayed, the field was brought down pit road and parked on pit road – just before the start/finish line – on lap 201 for a 30-second moment of remembrance in honor of Memorial Day and the armed service members who have given their lives in service to the United States.

Stage 1 Sidebar: Blown Tire Forces Early Charlotte Exit For Jones

Stage 1 Report: Keselowski Tops Opening Stage Of Coca-Cola 600

VIDEO: Bruce Martin Recaps 103rd Indy 500

Published in Racing
Sunday, 26 May 2019 18:26

SPEED SPORT IndyCar Correspondent Bruce Martin recaps all the action from the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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