My thoughts about which British team was the best of 2013.
As I mentioned in my post about the best sportswoman of 2013 I seriously considered Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Valegro for Team of the Year. As I opted to put them in the sportswoman category I won’t include them in my considerations for the team award. My other notable teams are:
The England netball team. They went through the season unbeaten until the final match when they lost to South Africa. On the way they beat the world’s number 1 nation Australia 3-0 in a series in England. However, England are still only ranked third and didn’t get the chance to prove themselves in a major tournament.
The racehorse Sprinter Sacre achieved the highest rating by a steeplechase horse for over 40 years with brilliant performances over two miles. He was rated 12 pounds better than any other National Hunt horse in 2012/13. I include him in the team along with his jockey Barry Geraghty and trainer Nicky Henderson.
David Florence and Richard Hounslow won the world championship at slalom canoeing in the C2 class. They won one world cup race as well and were third overall.
At Women’s Trampoline at the World Championships Kat Driscoll and Amanda Parker won the synchro title and Britain won the team event. The synchro pair also won the World Games title but didn’t compete enough in the world cup series to rank highly.
The claims of the British and Irish Lions rugby union team can be swiftly dismissed. The may have won the BBC Team of the Year but they struggled to overcome an Australian team who were outclassed by South Africa and New Zealand in The Rugby Championship. A 2-1 series win over the third best team in the southern hemisphere isn’t much of an achievement, even if the games were exciting.
Eve Muirhead’s Scottish curling team had a great season. They won the world championship and at the European championships later in the year won every match in the group stages before losing in the final. A win there would have given them very strong claims to win my award.
At rowing Helen Glover was forced to look for a new partner in the coxless pairs when Heather Stanning took a year out which included serving in Afghanistan with the army. Stanning’s replacement Polly Swann blended seamlesly with Glover and they won all three world cup races and the world title comfortably. The men’s eight were only marginally less successful winning two world cup races and the world championship.
At Squash the men’s team of Nick Matthew, James Willstrop and Daryl Selby dropped only one match on their way to winning the world team title. At the Angling world championships both England’s men and women won team titles. The men won easily while the women came from way behind to snatch the title. Paul Foster and Alex Marshall continues their dominance at bowls when winning the world indoor title and Foster combined with Laura Thomas to win the mixed pairs title. At Show Jumping Britain won the European Championships but disappointed in the final of the Nations Cup. The women Modern Pentathletes won the relay at the world championships but didn’t medal in the team event.
From the above contenders my pick would be the Sprinter Sacre team and the men’s squash team.
My British team of the year, however, is the Great Britain Women’s Cycling Team Pursuit squad. This award is partly for their efforts in 2012 when they reigned supreme. This dominance was maintained in 2013 when the team of Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker won the world championships. For the new 2013/14 season a rule change increased the number of competitors in a team from three to four. If anything this made Britain even more dominant as the strength in depth in the squad came into play. The team has won every world cup race they have entered since seemingly able to reduce the world record at will. Admittedly the record is new and has room for improvement but by taking another three seconds from it in their most recent race in Mexico the team of King, Barker, Jo Rowsell and Katie Archibald were seemingly at another level to any other team in the world.