Preview: Winter Olympics leading lights and Arab interest

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Moroccan Samir Azzimani will be one of two athletes representing Morocco at the Winter Olympics 2018 in PyeongChang. (AP)
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Martin Fourcade
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Lindsey Vonn.
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Kjetil Jansrud.
Updated 09 February 2018
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Preview: Winter Olympics leading lights and Arab interest

LONDON: Here are the leading lights looking to land gold over the next two weeks in South Korea.
KJETIL JANSRUD — The Norwegian heads up a powerful set of skiers from the Winter Olympic heavyweights also boasting the likes of speed king Aksel Lund Svindal and slalom expert Henrik Kristoffersen. Jansrud won super-G gold and downhill bronze in Sochi in 2014 and giant slalom silver in 2010. His versatility is legendary and he has history in South Korea, having won the downhill on the Olympic course in February last year.
MARTIN FOURCADE — The 29-year-old brings to Pyeongchang all the credentials for achieving more success. An 11-time world champion and six-time overall World Cup winner, Fourcade won two golds and a silver at Sochi 2014 having also claimed silver in 2010. The French army officer has been in imperious form this season, but so has Norwegian Johannes Boe, the only man capable of stopping his golden charge. It all makes for a thrilling showdown in South Korea.
CHLOE KIM — Aged just 17, Chloe Kim is tipped by many to become the breakout star of the Winter Olympics in Korea, her parents’ homeland. Too young to compete in Sochi four years ago, she’s a halfpipe snowboard specialist who has racked up some impressive performances over the past few months. She is a four-times Winter X Games champion and was America’s flag-bearer at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics, where she won the halfpipe and slopestyle titles.
 

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN — At just 22 years old, the Colorado native has already racked up 41 wins on the World Cup circuit, mainly in the slalom. But this year has seen Shiffrin add a further string to her bow as she branches out into the speed disciplines. She streaked to a first downhill victory in Lake Louise and given Pyeongchang’s favorable schedule, Shiffrin could realistically medal in four events.
LINDSEY VONN — The 33-year-old American has won four World Cup overall championships as well as an Olympic gold in the downhill at the 2010 Games. Despite missing the 2014 Games through injury she has become one of the most recognizable sportswomen in the world. She has 81 World Cup wins to her name, closing down on Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86, and is aiming for a last Olympic hurrah in South Korea.
CHOI MIN-JEONG — In her first Olympics, 19-year-old Choi is South Korea’s potential golden girl and the favorite over three distances in short-track speed skating — 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m. A fourth gold is not out of reach on home soil if she can help the host nation win the 3,000m relay. The Chinese women will hope to stand in her way.


Fernando Alonso: F1 master moves on, his legacy assured

Updated 14 August 2018
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Fernando Alonso: F1 master moves on, his legacy assured

  • Fernando Alonso has finally had enough of life in the slow lane with McLaren
  • The 37-year-old, the first Spanish driver to be crowned world champion, has long nurtured a dream to land motorsport's Triple Crown

LONDON: His two world championships now a distant memory, Fernando Alonso has finally had enough of life in the slow lane with McLaren.
The Spaniard is revered as a master of his metier, but his reservoir of patience with an underperforming car has finally hit empty.
The only surprise about Tuesday’s announcement that he was moving on to Indycar from 2019 was that it had not come sooner.
Since his return to ailing McLaren he has displayed great stoicism and humor as the famous British team struggles to produce a car to match the might of Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull.
The 37-year-old, the first Spanish driver to be crowned world champion, has long nurtured a dream to emulate the late Graham Hill and land motorsport’s coveted Triple Crown.
And his move to IndyCar in 2019 may well see him realize the ambition.
He has two legs in the bag, the Monaco Grand Prix and this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. That leaves the fabled Indy500 — he led the field on his debut in 2017 before his engine blew.
Born in Oviedo, in the Asturias province of northern Spain, Fernando Alonso Diaz inherited his passion for driving fast cars from his father.
Jose Luis was an amateur kart racer and presented his son with a replica pedal F1 car.
His parents said Alonso showed a competitive spirit at a young age and, like F1 legend Michael Schumacher before him, Alonso embarked on a karting career.
He won three Spanish karting titles before winning the world juniors in 1996.
He eventually graduated to Formula 3000 where he attracted the attention of the Formula One talent-spotters.
Flavio Briatore, the flamboyant Italian playboy became Alonso’s personal manager and guided his career, eventually bringing him to Renault where he claimed the world title for the first time in 2005, at 24 the then-youngest ever champion.
He defended his title the following season, calling on a combination of natural speed and competitive instincts, allied with supreme race-craft and an iron will to win, that invited comparisons with Schumacher.
In 2007 he switched to McLaren, but it proved a fractious time alongside a rookie named Lewis Hamilton.
He jumped stables back to Renault for 2008 and 2009, before Ferrari came calling where he followed in the footsteps of late aristocratic compatriot Alfonso de Portago, who raced for them in the 1950s.
He finished second in the world championship three times for the Italian marque, before rejoining McLaren in 2015.
Whilst leaving the door open for a possible return to F1, Alonso gave every indication in an emotion-charged message on Instagram, that he was bidding F1 goodbye for good.
Written as if to a lover he said: “You were not expecting me and I was not sure if I want to know you.
“When I barely knew how to walk, I ran straight toward the noise, the circuits, without knowing anything about you.
“We had very good times, some unforgettable, others really bad. We have played together against incredible rivals. You played with me and I learned how to play with you too.
“I have seen you changing, sometimes for good and sometimes for — in my opinion — bad.
“I know you love me but be sure, I love you too.”
The winner of 32 Grands Prix typically has promised to see out the 2018 season with “more commitment and passion than ever.”
F1’s loss is Indy’s gain.