Russians get first Winter Olympics gold thanks to 15-year-old Zagitova

Gold medalist Alina Zagitova, center, poses for a photo with Russian compatriot and silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva, left, and bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada at the women’s free figure skating final at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (AP)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Russians get first Winter Olympics gold thanks to 15-year-old Zagitova

GANGNEUNG, South Korea: The Russians finally have a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics, thanks to a 15-year-old who beat the fellow teen who inspired her to become a figure skater.
Alina Zagitova won one of the games spotlight events Friday, edging her friend and training partner 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva. That ended the gold drought for the Olympic Athletes from Russia — the designation given to the nation’s competitors after the IOC banned the nation because of a doping scandal. Zagitova and Medvedeva tied in the free skate, a rare occurrence, but Zagitova had won the short program Wednesday.
Bronze went to Kaetlyn Osmond, giving Canada four overall medals in figure skating.
Medvedeva seemed well on her way to Olympic gold as she went unbeaten for two seasons. But she battled a cracked bone in her right foot this season and Zagitova emerged, eventually surpassing Medvedeva.
While Medvedeva set a world mark in the short program, and a few minutes later her countrywoman beat it. The difference in the short program wound up being the margin between gold and silver.
On Friday, Zagitova went first, greeted by loud chants and cheers from the Russian fans desperate for that first gold.
She nailed everything with fluid flair and technical brilliance. Zagitova earned 156.65 points for her program to “Don Quixote,” laying down the challenge for her countrywoman.
Medvedeva matched it, but that was not enough.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”