Gymnastics: Hurd captures surprise all-around World gold

From left: Elisabeth Black of Canada, Morgan Hurd of the US, and Elena Ermina of Russia display their medals during the 47th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at Montreal Olympic Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Gymnastics: Hurd captures surprise all-around World gold

MONTREAL: US teenager Morgan Hurd snatched a surprise women’s all-around gold on Friday at the injury-hit World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
The bespectacled 16-year-old, who was born in China and adopted as a toddler, followed in the footsteps of celebrated compatriot Simone Biles — ably shouldering US hopes after national champion Ragan Smith withdrew minutes before the competition with an ankle injury.
It was a stunning World Championships debut for Hurd, who was sixth at the P&G Championships in August but secured a place on the four-woman US team for the championships at a selection camp in September.
“It’s crazy that I was even competing here,” Hurd said. “To think that I won is just the most surreal feeling in the world.”
Hurd won with a total of 55.232 points, denying home hope Ellie Black of Canada who took silver with 55.132.
Russian Elena Eremina was third with 54.799, with Mai Murukami narrowly missing the podium with a total of 54.699.
Hurd sealed the win with her final routine, the floor exercise, erasing a deficit of two-tenths of a point to surpass Black.
It was a disappointment to fans at the 1976 Olympic venue, but Black became the first Canadian gymnast, man or woman, to win an Olympic or world all-around medal.
Hurd continued a long streak of success for US women in all-around competition.
An American woman has won every Olympic or world all-around title since 2011.
Hurd opened the competition by scoring 14.533 on the vault, which put her in fourth.
She was tied with Black for the lead after the second rotation, earning 14.300 on the parallel bars.
A 12.666 on balance beam left her in second going into the final rotation, and her floor exercise score of 13.733 — despite stepping out of bounds on her third tumbling run — was enough.
The competition lacked the top four finishers form last year’s Rio Games.
Two competitors touted as favorites going into the week were also absent — Smith and Romania’s Laris Iordache.
Smith left on crutches after hurting herself warming up for her opening vault.
USA Gymnastics said she was taken to hospital for X-rays.
Iordache, a two-time world all-around medalist, tore an Achilles tendon warming up for floor exercise before qualifying on Wednesday — three days after Japanese superstar Kohei Uchimura pulled out of the men’s qualifying with torn ligament in his ankle.
In Uchimura’s absence, China’s Xiao Ruoteng won the men’s all-around title on Thursday.
Men and women will be back on Saturday and Sunday for individual apparatus finals.


Al-Ittihad banking on experience of Saad Al-Shehri to replace Ramon Diaz

Updated 19 September 2018
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Al-Ittihad banking on experience of Saad Al-Shehri to replace Ramon Diaz

  • Al-Shehri led the young Green Falcons to the last eight of the 2018 Asian Games
  • Diaz was fired on Saturday after two defeats in the opening two games of the Saudi Pro League season

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad are not hanging around in replacing manager Ramon Diaz as the Jeddah club are set to appoint Saudi Arabia U-23 coach Saad Al-Shehri as their new boss.
Diaz was fired on Saturday after two defeats in the opening two games of the Saudi Pro League season.
The 3-0 defeat at home to Al-Qadisiyah at the weekend sent the eight-time champions to the bottom of the table and resulted in the instant dismissal of the Argentine who was handed the reins only in May.
Al-Shehri has a growing reputation. Without any over-age players, the 38-year-old led the young Green Falcons to the last eight of the 2018 Asian Games which included a famous 4-3 win over a strong Chinese team in the second round and then a narrow 2-1 loss to finalists Japan.
“The question for the club now is one of stability in the coaching side,” an Al-Ittihad official told Arab News. “There have been a lot of changes and it is time to grow the club and Al-Shehri could be the man to settle everything down. He deserves a chance.”
Al-Shehri is regarded as the opposite of Diaz. The 59-year-old South American had a stellar playing CV and a long coaching resume that stretches back to 1995 while the Saudi Arabian saw his promising career cut short through injury.
So far, the former physical education teacher has been heavily involved in youth football, winning titles at that level with Al-Ittifaq and Al-Nassr before leading the U-20 team to the knockout stage of the 2017 World Cup and a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Uruguay.
“He is young but has had plenty of time to prepare for a coaching career after he finished as a player in his early twenties,” added the official. “His football is more positive as we saw at the Asian Games and the players enjoyed that experience and he also knows the local players really well. Al-Ittihad want to play more aggressive football than under Diaz. He wasn’t here a long time but the style of play did not fit the expectations of fans.”
The club are keen to get the deal done as soon as possible, though Al-Shehri is holding out for a contract until the end of the season. In the meantime, Bandar Basirah will take temporary charge of the team for the crucial trip to Al-Taawon on Thursday, a team that has drawn its first two games of the season.
“I am proud to be part of this big club and I thank the management here for having faith in me,” Basirah said. “I don’t have a magic wand to wave to change everything overnight but we will do everything we can to make the fans happy. We don’t have much time to prepare for the next game but I trust the players and we are all focused on getting the victory and get our season really started.”
At the very least, there is a desire to play more entertaining football. “We know that we haven’t been at our best this season so far but we have studied the opponent well and are ready to get the three points.”
Assuming that Al-Shehri comes in sooner rather than later, there will be funds available to strengthen the team. President Nawaf Al-Muqairn has promised fans that better times are around the corner.
“We will give our players a chance in the coming weeks but when the time comes, we will not hesitate to strengthen the team with local and foreign talent.”