Arab history-maker Samir Azzimani carries fellow skier over line for 'moment of the Games'

Tonga's Pita Taufatofua (L) and Morocco's Samir Azzimani (R) lift Mexico's German Madrazo onto their shoulders as they celebrate at the finish line in the men's 15km cross country freestyle at the Alpensia cross country ski centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang. / AFP / Odd ANDERSEN
Updated 20 February 2018

Arab history-maker Samir Azzimani carries fellow skier over line for 'moment of the Games'

PYEONGCHANG: Morocco’s Samir Azzimani was involved in what might just be the defining image of this year's Winter Olympics.
Mexico’s German Madrazo was heroically skiing last to the line, proudly brandishing the flag of his country and smiling jubilantly. After crossing the finish after 15 kilometers of gruelling freestyle cross-country racing on Friday, he was lifted high into the air and onto the shoulders of two other athletes, including Azzimani, for whom just getting to the end was an achievement in itself.
The 43-year-old Madrazo came 116th out of the 116 who made it home, fully 25 minutes 51.5 secondss behind the winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland.
Two other competitors failed to finish and one was disqualified, underlining the achievement of even ending the race.
So as Madrazo, who had never even worn skis until a year ago, approached the finishing line in just shy of an hour, a large Mexican flag was thrust into his hand and a beaming smile formed on his exhausted face.
Spectators and athletes cheered and applauded him on his lone race to the finish.
There, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua, who finished 114th, and Azzimani (111th) hoisted Madrazo into the air, all three smiling and laughing.
Azzimani made history by becoming the Arab world’s first dual-sport Olympian after competing in the alpine skiing event
at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Taufatofua, famous for peeling off and baring his chest at the Olympics, hoped he wouldn’t ski into a tree in his Winter Games debut. He also wanted to finish before it got dark.
Well, Taufatofua kept this clothes on for once and ticked both boxes, finishing 114th — almost 23 minutes behind the gold medallist, Swiss legend Cologna, but crucially avoiding the wooden spoon.
“I’m just happy I finished,” the 34-year-old told reporters. “Relieved. I mean, that was a long race. I’d rather finish toward the end of the pack with all my friends than be somewhere in the middle by myself,” said the Tongan beefcake, who competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Rio Games but lost in the first round. “We fought together, we finished together.”
Taufatofua laughed off suggestions he might be the most popular man at the Games after entering the stadium for the opening ceremony like a gladiator and brandishing the Tongan flag as if it were a spear.
“I don’t know about popular but I’m the coldest man,” said the self-confessed beach bum, teeth chattering.
Taufatofua, born in Brisbane but fiercely proud of his Tongan heritage, turned to cross-country skiing after Rio to make an unlikely Olympic return.
His sense of relief was palpable when he finished in one piece.
“I didn’t fall,” said Taufatofua, who revealed that he ate some “fiery kimchi” before the race to help keep warm.
“I was coming into the last lap thinking ‘please God, not in front of everyone, let me finish strong’.
“But I finished with the guys and that was important for me.”
Taufatofua, who used to strap planks of wood to his feet to mimic skis in sweltering Australia, was looking forward to sharing race tales with Madrazo and Azzimani.
“Everyone was at the front racing to come first,” said Taufatofua. We were racing not to come last but we’ll have a good laugh over it over dinner.”

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.