10 sporting highlights of March 2017
28 March 2017
AOC: March was the month of Aussie movers and shakers. Surfing legends returned, young figure skaters prevailed and medal hiatus’s fell.
The Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships were the highlight of the month, and two of the greatest comeback stories of our time, in Owen Wright and Lydia Lassila, reminded us all to never give up on our dreams.
Here are 10 sporting highlights from March 2017
1. Sierra Nevada Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships
Australia won five medals at the World Championships in Spain. Britt Cox and Scotty James once again proved they are at the top of their game, winning gold in the women's moguls and men’s snowboard halfpipe respectively. For James, is was his second consecutive halfpipe title, and with his huge 97.50-point run, his title defense was never in doubt.
Danielle Scott won silver in the ladies aerial ski event, while David Morris won bronze in the men’s event. Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin rounded out the medal haul with bronze in the men’s snowboard cross event. A recap of the medal-winning performances, and the athlete reactions, can be read HERE.
2. Aussie Gymnast bring home nine from the World Cups in Baku and Doha.
The Australia Artistic Gymnastics team won six medals at the Baku leg of the Individual Apparatus World Cup Series. The highlight of the meet was Chris Remkes’ gold-medal winning performance in the Vault final and Emily Little winning silver on Vault and Floor, and Bronze on Beam.
The Australian team won another three medals at the fourth and final World Cup in Doha, Qatar. Emily Little was once again the stand out, making the finals for all three apparatus she contested, and won silver in Vault and Floor. Georgia-Rose Brown was the other medallist, bringing home bronze in the Uneven Bars.
3. Lydia Lassila wins her third gold medal from five World Cup events
Lydia Lassila’s fairytale comeback continued in March when the 35-year-old mother of two claimed her third Aerials World Cup gold medal in Moscow. She was joined on the podium by fellow Aussie teammate Laura Peel who won bronze and her first medal for the season. To cap off her successful return, Lassila came third on the overall FIS Aerials World Cup standings.
4. Stephanie Gilmore and Owen Wright back on top of the Surfing World
Two Australian surfing icons won gold on the opening stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour on the Gold Coast in March. In his first major competition since a traumatic brain injury in 2015, Owen Wright produced his best ever result on the Gold Coast to take out the Quiksilver Pro title. Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore claimed the Roxy Pro title, marking her 25th elite tour victory.
5. Australia claims the Junior Figure Skating World Championships crown
Pair skaters Harley Windsor (20) and Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya (17) were crowned the 2017 Junior World Figure Skating Champions in Taipei City, Taiwan. Coming into the final ranked third after the short program, the Australian couple performed a confident, attacking free program skate to out-class their rivals and claim gold.
6. Australia wins its first FIVB World Tour Gold medals since 2001
After a decade of playing beach volleyball against each other, Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann teamed up in March to win Australia’s first FIVB World Tour gold medal since 2001. At the competition in Shepparton, Aussies Nikki Laird and Phoebe Bell also podiumed, winning bronze in the women’s competition.
Australia podiumed again at the Manly World Tour a couple of weeks later when Rio 2016 Olympian Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Queensland’s Jessyka Ngauamo took home silver, while triple Olympian Louise Grice (nee Bawden) and Laird won bronze.
7. Short Track World Championships
Deanna Lockett and Andy Jung came away from the World Short Track Championships in Rotterdam ranked 12th in the 1500m and 500m events respectively. In the 1000m Lockett ended up 16th overall and was 30th in the 500m, and combined with her 1500m achieved an overall world ranking of 18th.
8. Athletes qualify for London World Champs
The 2017 SUMMERofATHS Grand Prix in Canberra saw four athletes clock qualifiers for the London IAAF World Championships to be held in August. Ella Nelson (200m), Lauren Wells (400m hurdles) and Morgan Mitchel (400m) all ran times quicker than the qualifying standard for London, and Dani Stevens (discus) threw 64.79m in Canberra, the second qualifying throw in as many weeks after she threw 66.78m at the NSW Athletics Championships in February.
9. Australia extended their winter medal haul to 40
Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin won bronze at the final Snowboard Cross World Cup event in Switzerland, and in doing so extended Australia’s winter medal haul for the 2016/2017 season to a total of 40 medals. The best previous medal haul was the 2012/13 season with 25 medals.
10. Australian divers medaled at the first Diving World Cup
Rio Olympic bronze medallist Maddison Keeney led the medal charge for Australia at the opening World Series diving event for 2017 in Beijing, picking up an individual bronze and partnering two synchro silver medals. Keeney and Anabelle Smith won silver in the women's 3-metre synchro, before Keeney and Domonic Bedggood won silver in the mixed 3-metre springboard.