Everest conqueror says end of Saudi Arabia stadium ban can inspire a generation

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REMARKABLE RAHA: The first Saudi woman to climb Everest is excited about the future of women’s sport in KSA. (Arab News)
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Wojdan Shaherkani made history at the London Olympics. (Reuters)
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Saudi Arabian female athletes lapping up the atmosphere at the London Games. (Reuters)
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Sarah Attar became a national hero and inspiration to millions around the world with her London Olympics run. (AP)
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Updated 10 November 2017
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Everest conqueror says end of Saudi Arabia stadium ban can inspire a generation

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s decision to grant women access to sports stadiums for the first time will go down as a watershed moment in the history of the Kingdom. That’s according to Raha Moharrak, who in 2013 became the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Moharrak hopes the end of the stadium ban will inspire girls across the Kingdom.
The decision to allow women into stadiums across the country was made last month, meaning that from early 2018 women will be allowed into arenas in major cities, according to the General Sport Authority, the country’s governing body for sports.
Coming on the back of plans to increase female participation in sport throughout Saudi Arabia, optimism is building that this will not just represent a small pinprick in the dam of division, but signal an emphatic opening of the Saudi sporting floodgates.
And for Moharrak the news is just what is needed to get women across Saudi Arabia into sport and more active.
“I get goosebumps when I see a live sporting event and it’s something I have always wished my fellow countrywomen could get to experience,” Moharrak told Arab News, fittingly at the International Conference of Sports for Women (ICSW) in Abu Dhabi.  
 “I’m so happy that they will be able to taste the magic that is in the air when you see sport live for the first time. There is that vibe you get, that feeling — it touches you and it can often be what inspires you to be an athlete.
“The fact that girls could never previously go and watch sports meant they lost that connection, they lost that first moment of inspiration.”
Social media came alive in Saudi Arabia and beyond when the stadium ruling was announced, with female supporters looking excitedly ahead to the start of 2018 when they will finally be able to attend matches and events in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
The path toward sporting parity arguably began in 2012 when, after pressure from the International Olympic Committee, Saudi Arabia sent its first ever athletes to the Olympics.
Judo player Wojdan Shaherkani and 800m runner Sarah Attar competed in London with Attar’s appearance, in particular, capturing the imagination of the watching world. Despite finishing a distant last place in her heat, she received a standing ovation from everyone inside the Olympic Stadium.
 Attar returned four years later to take part in the marathon in Rio de Janeiro and though she finished 52 minutes behind Kenyan winner Jemima Sumgong she had again made Olympic history for her country, alongside 100m runner Kariman Abuljadayel and fencer Lubna Al-Omair.
 While these athletes unquestionably played a role in breaking down barriers, Moharrak has become one of the most recognizable pioneers for female empowerment in Saudi Arabia, and beyond.
Since taking on Everest the Jeddah-born climber has traveled the world to tell enraptured audiences her story, and believes every positive change should be cherished.
Interestingly her achievements, like the abolition of the stadium ban, can be traced back to Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan.
Named the first female president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports in October, Princess Reema has been a driving force behind the equality evolution, and Moharrak certainly feels a personal debt of gratitude to the royal.
“Princess Reema took me and nine other Saudi girls to Everest base camp and it was then that I knew I wanted to climb the mountain. Her passion and charisma inspired me. Appointing her to this important position in sport is a huge step in the right direction because we have one of us there. She is a doer and a woman of her word who genuinely loves sports. I know she is pushing hard for all of us.”
 Moharrak had to fight for her opportunities, defying her father to pursue a passion for climbing. Now he is her biggest fan and she believes that it is only a matter of time before other men also recognize that the playing field deserves to be leveled.
 “I was furious to be judged by my gender, my passport and my religion but getting over those obstacles made the success even sweeter. I am constantly inspired by every single girl who goes to the gym, who rides a bike, who picks up a ball, who swims.
 “Every female in the Arab world who was born in circumstances that did not make it easy for her to be athletic but who still embraced sport anyway — these people are my inspiration. Some of them have medals, some of them have nothing. But they have all shown tremendous bravery to go after the love of sport.”
 Thanks to Moharrak, Princess Reema and Saudi Arabia’s other female sporting trailblazers, there is now hope of a brighter future. They have scratched the glass ceiling; now a new generation has the opportunity to smash through it.


Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

Updated 17 July 2018
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Joe Root’s century seals England series win over India, maintains No. 1 ODI ranking

  • This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings
  • Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker

LEEDS: Joe Root became England’s leading one-day international century-maker as an innings of exactly 100 not out on his Headingley home ground saw the hosts to an eight-wicket victory over India on Tuesday and a 2-1 series win.
This was Root’s second unbeaten century in successive innings after his 113 not out helped England level the three-match contest with an 86-run win at Lord’s on Saturday.
This latest hundred was also Test skipper Root’s 13th in ODIs, taking him past the England record of 12 he had previously shared with Marcus Trescothick.
Tuesday saw Root and one-day captain Eoin Morgan (88 not out) share an unbroken third-wicket stand of 186 as England, first in the ODI rankings to their opponents’ second, ended India’s run of nine straight bilateral series wins in style.
England, who will be bidding to win the World Cup for the first time when they stage next year’s edition, had said they would treat Tuesday’s match as a dress rehearsal for a winner-takes-all game at the showpiece tournament.
And that made the comprehensive manner of their victory all the more satisfying for Morgan’s men.
It was England’s bowlers who set up this win, with Adil Rashid and David Willey, two of the five Yorkshire cricketers in their XI, taking three wickets apiece.
But, after left-arm quick Willey had kept things tight early on, it was leg-spinner Rashid who did significant damage by taking two wickets in an over.
He bowled India captain and star batsman Virat Kohli (71), as well as dismissing Suresh Raina, on his way to three for 49 in a maximum 10 overs.
Willey, who took three for 40 in nine overs, received excellent new-ball support from Durham quick Mark Wood (one for 30).
Root, who was dropped from the final match of England’s preceding 2-1 Twenty20 series loss, told Sky Sports: “It feels fantastic.
“To come into a big series like this and perform how we have as a side is great.”
Morgan added: “I think we were outstanding. I think the tone was set by the bowlers early on, David Willey and Mark Wood were on the money. From that point there was no let up.”
Meanwhile Kohli accepted his side had been outplayed.
“I thought we were never on the mark as far as runs on the board were concerned, we were 25-30 short, and England were really clinical with the bat and in the field as well,” he said.
After Morgan won the toss, Rohit Sharma, who scored a superb century during India’s eight-wicket win in the series-opener at Trent Bridge, struggled to make two off 18 balls, his innings ending when he flicked Willey to Wood at deep square leg.
Opening partner Shikhar Dhawan made a fluent 44 before was run out by Stokes’s direct hit.
Dinesh Karthik, preferred to KL Rahul for this match, then made 21 before he was bowled between bat and pad by Rashid.
Kohli pressed on, however, completing a 55-ball fifty before Rashid struck twice in six balls as India slumped to 158 for five.
He bowled Kohli with a superb leg-break and had Raina caught low at leg-slip by Root.
James Vince, called up in place of the injured Jason Roy cut the first ball of England’s reply, from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for four.
Vince’s frustrating England career has seen him repeatedly get out on Tuesday he fell for a run-a-ball 27, although it needed a brilliant one-handed take by wicket-keeper Dhoni, from Hardik Pandya’s throw, to run him out.
But by then England were 74 for two inside 10 overs, well above the required run-rate.
Root, stumped off a Yuzvendra Chahal no-ball on 69, went to his century when he pulled Pandya through midwicket for his 10th four in 120 balls as England won with 33 deliveries to spare.
An elated Root celebrated by dropping his bat to the ground — the ‘mic drop’ gesture more associated with rock stars and stand-up comedians than cricketers.