169 Russian athletes ‘approved’ for Pyeongchang: Russian Olympic official

Matthieu Reeb, Secretary General of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in a file photo from Jan. 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2018

169 Russian athletes ‘approved’ for Pyeongchang: Russian Olympic official

MOSCOW: Russian Olympics officials on Thursday said 169 Russian athletes have been approved to take part in next month's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics under a neutral flag.
"At the moment together with the national and international federations an application of OAR (Olympic Athletes from Russia) athletes was approved.
"169 athletes. Unfortunately, leading athletes were not included," vice president of the Russian Olympic Committee Stanislav Pozdnyakov told a press conference.
In December, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said clean Russian competitors would be allowed to compete in South Korea under a neutral flag as "Olympic Athletes from Russia".
Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov on Thursday said that taking part in the Games will be the athletes' personal decision.
"169 - this is the official list and the athletes will decide themselves if they will travel (to South Korea) or not. This is the final list," Kolobkov told journalists.
Kolobkov added that Russia may organise alternative sports competitions for Russian athletes barred from the Games.
"We will be organising additional competitions in Russia with foreign athletes for all those unable to take part in the Olympics Games," Russian news agencies quoted Kolobkov as saying.
Last week the IOC said the pool of Russians who could potentially be eligible for the 2018 Games had been reduced from 500 to 389.
High profile Russian athletes, including short track speed skating star Victor An, were banned from taking part in the Games this week. An is the world's most successful short track speed skater and has been accused in the World Anti-Doping Agency-sponsored McLaren report.
The IOC banned Russia from the 2018 Olympics after the McLaren report which documented a vast Moscow-backed doping scheme in previous Games.
Russians who want to compete are being forced to pass a unique set of anti-doping tests.
Dozens of Russian athletes banned by the IOC for life for doping began an appeal against their suspension on Monday at the world's top sports court.
The week-long hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) includes appeals from 39 Russians who competed at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi but are now banned after multiple independent reports linked them to doping.


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.