American-Palestinian becomes first MLB professional with autism

American-Palestinian becomes first MLB professional with autism
Tarik El-Abour is the first pro baseball player with autism. (Credit: Kansas City Royals)
Updated 04 April 2018

American-Palestinian becomes first MLB professional with autism

American-Palestinian becomes first MLB professional with autism
  • Autism is a condition that affects 3.5 million Americans in a variety of ways
  • El-Abour becomes first with condition to sign in Major League history

Kansas City, Missouri: An American of Palestinian origin has made history by becoming the first individual with autism to sign a professional contract with a Major League Baseball (MLB) club, having penned a deal with 2015 World Series champions Kansas City Royals.
Raised in San Marino, California, the outfielder has spent the last two seasons with the Empire Pro Baseball League.
This is not the first time El-Abour has been involved with the Royals organization — last April he helped the club host Autism Night at the Kauffman Stadium, even throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
While not an elite prospect, or expected to get out of the minors for the ongoing 2018 season, his prospects are good — especially considering his condition. His mother, Nadia Khalil, told Yahoo Sports: “That is when I started to see the workings of the autistic mind,” said Khalil. “I started to see how numbers had a lot to do with how he thinks. Those of us without autism think in concepts, he thinks in numbers. The greater the number of times he did anything, the better he was at it. Just like us.
“However, the way the numbers worked in his mind went way further than anything I could have yet imagined. He knew he had to practice. He knew he loved it. He told me that when he grew up and played baseball, he would buy me a house wherever he plays, so that I could watch his games live.
“He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself.”
In 2016, El-Abour was named the Empire League’s Rookie of the Year after batting .323 in 122 plate appearances and in 2017, he won a championship with the Plattsburgh Red Birds.


Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title

Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title
Updated 17 min 36 sec ago

Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title

Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title
  • Zverev won his first Madrid title in 2018 in a final against Thiem
  • The win on Sunday gave him his fourth Masters 1000 title

MADRID: Alexander Zverev continued his impressive form going into the French Open by winning his second Madrid Open title on Sunday.
After beating top-seeded Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals and fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem in the semifinals, Zverev rallied to defeat Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-3 for his second title this season. The sixth-ranked German also won the Mexican Open in Acapulco in March.
Zverev won his first Madrid title in 2018 in a final against Thiem. The win on Sunday gave him his fourth Masters 1000 title, and first in three years. Zverev will be trying to improve from his fourth-round exit last year at the French Open.
“To do well at the French Open, you need to be playing well during the clay court season,” the 24-year-old Zverev said. “That is in a way important for me, as well. At the end of the day I won a Masters. There’s really very little in terms of bigger than this one right here. I’m happy with this achievement. Obviously, yeah, I look forward to the next few weeks. I look forward to what’s ahead.”
The 10th-ranked Berrettini won the title in Belgrade last week. The Italian has been gradually returning to form after struggling with an abdominal injury that kept him from playing his quarterfinal match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open. The injury kept Berrettini out until Monte Carlo, where he lost his opening match.
“This was my first (Masters 1000) final. Hopefully it’s not going to be my last,” Berrettini said. “But like I said before, I’m really happy on my level. Today unfortunately I think I didn’t play my best tennis.”
After exchanging a break each in the first set, Berrettini opened the tiebreaker with a 5-0 lead but allowed Zverev to come back. The Italian closed it out on his fourth set point after Zverev also squandered a set point in the back-and-forth tiebreaker. It was the first set dropped by Zverev this week.
Zverev, who finished with seven double-faults, evened the match after breaking Berrettini at 4-4 and serving out to clinch the second set at the Magic Box center court, which had its roof closed because of rain in Madrid.
Berrettini, who ended with 50 unforced errors, squandered a break point early in the third set, and Zverev broke him in the following game to take the lead. He earned another break at the end, converting on his second match point to clinch the victory.
In the men’s doubles final, Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina defeated Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic of Croatia 1-6, 6-3, 10-8.
The Madrid Open was one of the first sporting events in Spain that allowed the presence of a limited number of fans. The tournament was among those canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Local health workers were honored by tournament organizers before the final on Sunday.
In the women’s edition, Aryna Sabalenka beat top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 in Saturday’s final.


Mercedes masterstroke in Spain helps Hamilton deny Verstappen

Mercedes masterstroke in Spain helps Hamilton deny Verstappen
Updated 09 May 2021

Mercedes masterstroke in Spain helps Hamilton deny Verstappen

Mercedes masterstroke in Spain helps Hamilton deny Verstappen
  • Hamilton moved on to 98 career wins after a surprise second change of tires hoodwinked Red Bull to lift him 14 points clear of Verstappen
  • Bottas took third in the second Mercedes with Leclerc’s Ferrari in fourth and Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull completing the top five

BARCELONA: Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth successive Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after a Mercedes pit-stop masterstroke.
Hamilton moved on to 98 career wins after a surprise second change of tires hoodwinked Red Bull to lift him 14 points clear of Verstappen in the drivers’ standings.
“It was a really great strategy by the team. What a day!” beamed Hamilton, who was quick to acknowledge the smattering of fans allowed in to watch, a rare occurence in the time of coronavirus.
“It is great to see. I saw a British flag out there which I haven’t seen for a long, long time. I feel great after this. I feel like I could go again.”
Hamilton had set off from pole for the 100th time but was beaten to the first corner by Verstappen, with Charles Leclerc for Ferrari dishing out the same treatment on Valtteri Bottas on turn two.
On lap eight Yuki Tsunoda’s Sunday drive in Catalonia suffered a premature end when his AlphaTauri came to a grinding halt.
“Engine stop” the Japanese rookie lamented as the safety car emerged briefly to remove the immobile obstacle.
Verstappen held off Hamilton comfortably on the restart on lap 11, with Leclerc continuing to split the two Mercedes.
With a third of the race completed the first round of pit stops began, with all eyes on which of the front two with less than a second between them would blink first.
Verstappen it was who came in on lap 25, but the pit stop was slow by a couple of seconds in another minor but potentially critical error by the Red Bull title pretenders.
The Mercedes pit wall pulled Hamilton in for a lightning stop a few laps later as they pinned their hopes on fresher medium tires making the difference toward the finish.
At the midway point Hamilton set the fastest lap to go less than two and a half seconds behind his Dutch rival. The gap was less than a second shortly after.
On lap 43 Mercedes played their ace card.
Hamilton, half a second off the lead, came into the pits for a second new set of mediums.
He reemerged with under 23sec to make up on Verstappen, who with tire wear was in danger of becoming what he would describe afterwards as “a sitting duck” for the man in pursuit of a record eighth drivers’ title.
Hamilton asked his pit wall: “How far have I got to catch up?“
“Currently 22 seconds... we’ve done it before...” came back the reply.
There was a note of desperation on Red Bull’s radio with Verstappen suggesting “I don’t know how we are going to make it to the end.”
Hamilton moved into second but there was no hint of team orders with Bottas forcing his teammate into full overtaking mode.
Ten laps to go and Hamilton had only three seconds to make up on Verstappen and on lap 60 he did it, surging past the Dutchman on turn one — Toto Wolff, his team boss, punching the air with delight as their masterstroke paid off.
Hamilton said he was in two minds as to whether to obey the order to come in.
“I was about to get a shot to get past him as I pitted. I was really conflicted — ‘do I come in or ignore the call?’.
“I did what the team asked because there is a great trust between us. Remarkable job by everyone in this team. What a day.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was magnanimous in defeat, saying: “In fairness, hats off to Mercedes and Lewis.”
Verstappen said: “We’re not where we want to be and we still need to push hard and catch up because at the moment we are a little bit slower. But compared to last year, it has been a jump for us.”
Bottas took third in the second Mercedes with Leclerc’s Ferrari in fourth and Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull completing the top five.
Formula One takes a breather next weekend before returning for the Monaco Grand Prix with Hamilton possibly having a tilt at his century of wins in Azerbaijan at the start of June.


UAE’s Arabian Gulf League set for dramatic conclusion on Tuesday

UAE’s Arabian Gulf League set for dramatic conclusion on Tuesday
Updated 09 May 2021

UAE’s Arabian Gulf League set for dramatic conclusion on Tuesday

UAE’s Arabian Gulf League set for dramatic conclusion on Tuesday
  • UAE Pro League: All matches will take place at 10 p.m. local time to avoid favoring any club

The UAE Pro League has announced that the final round of matches of the 2020-21 Arabian Gulf League season will kick off at 10 p.m. local time on Tuesday, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The 25th and penultimate round left Al-Jazira, 2-0 victors over Al-Ain, leading the GAL table by only one point from Bani Yas, which had run out comfortable 5-0 winners at Al-Dhafra.

On Tuesday, the 26th round sees Al-Jazira welcome 10th-placed Khorfakkan to Abu Dhabi, while Bani Yas will host Al-Wahda in eighth.

The UAE Pro League also confirmed that the trophy presentation ceremony will be held at the winner’s home stadium.

The decision to play all matches at the same time was taken to ensure that no club gains any advantage over its rivals, whether in the fight for the title, AFC Champions League places or against relegation.


Rib injury forces Saudi rower out of Olympic qualifying contention

Rib injury forces Saudi rower out of Olympic qualifying contention
Updated 09 May 2021

Rib injury forces Saudi rower out of Olympic qualifying contention

Rib injury forces Saudi rower out of Olympic qualifying contention
  • Husein Alireza had competed training camp at Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center near San Diego

Saudi rower and Olympic hopeful Husein Alireza on Saturday suffered a devastating injury that has left his chances of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 in ruins, Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah reported.

There had been high hopes that Alireza would join the Saudi under-23 football team and table tennis player Ali Al-Khadrawi at the games, which kick off in July.

But an injury to his ribcage meant he had to withdraw from the qualifying competition that took place in Tokyo over the weekend.

Three days before the Tokyo 2020 competition, Husein Alireza felt pain in his ribs but decided to participate anyway. (Instagram: @saudirowing)

Under the watchful eye of Daniel Janes, director of rowing at the Saudi Rowing Federation, Alireza had ahead of the qualifying campaign taken part in a successful three-month training camp at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center near San Diego, California.

Three days before the competition, Alireza felt pain in his ribs but decided to participate anyway. Unfortunately for him and the Saudi team, he could not complete the race

Following his withdrawal, he was set to leave for Britain, where he is expected to receive treatment at a specialized center for sports injuries.

Rower Husein Alireza part in a successful three-month training camp at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center near San Diego, California. (Instagram: @saudirowing)


Sabalenka wins Madrid Open; Zverev faces Berrettini in final

Sabalenka wins Madrid Open; Zverev faces Berrettini in final
Updated 09 May 2021

Sabalenka wins Madrid Open; Zverev faces Berrettini in final

Sabalenka wins Madrid Open; Zverev faces Berrettini in final
  • It was the second title for Sabalenka this year after winning the season-opener in Abu Dhabi
  • Zverev defeated Dominic Thiem and No. 10-ranked Berrettini beat Casper Ruud in their semifinal matches

MADRID: Aryna Sabalenka is glad she changed her mind about playing at the Madrid Open.
Two weeks after nearly withdrawing from the tournament because of a muscle injury, Sabalenka was standing on center court with the winner’s trophy in her hands on Saturday.
Sabalenka defeated top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 for her 10th WTA title — and first on clay.
In the men’s final on Sunday, 2018 champion Alexander Zverev will face eighth-seeded Matteo Berrettini.
Sabalenka’s victory, coming two weeks after she was hurt in a loss to Barty in the Stuttgart final, will move the Belarus player to No. 4 in the world next week.
“To be honest, after the final in Stuttgart I was injured, I couldn’t even move, I really wanted to withdraw from here,” she said. “And I don’t know how, but my team ... the recovery was really good. In four days they made me feel much better. Somehow I’m here standing as the champion of this tournament.”
Sabalenka injured an adductor muscle in the three-set loss in Germany to Barty, who had won all of her three previous finals this year.
It was the second title for Sabalenka this year after winning the season-opener in Abu Dhabi. She also lost to Barty in the Miami quarterfinals.
In the men’s semifinals, Zverev followed his triumph over Rafael Nadal with a win over Dominic Thiem to reach another Madrid Open final. He will face No. 10-ranked Berrettini, who beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4.
No. 6 Zverev defeated No. 4 Thiem 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final again after beating Thiem for the 2018 title. He will be trying to win his second title this year after triumphing in Acapulco in March.
Zverev broke Thiem’s serve once in the first set and twice in the second on the Magic Box center court.
The German has yet to drop a set, including against Nadal in the Friday quarterfinals.
“They’re probably the two clay-courters that you think of right now when you’re thinking about Roland Garros and the biggest chances of winning,” Zverev said of Nadal and Thiem. “Rafa is the favorite no matter what. Probably Novak (Djokovic) second, Dominic a close third. It’s been so far a good week for me. The job is not done yet.”
Berrettini didn’t face a break point as he defeated Ruud to return to a final after winning Belgrade two weeks ago. He will be trying to win his first Masters 1000 final.
“The key today was putting pressure on his serve,” Berrettini said. “I was always trying to get the momentum and attacking even his first serve. I know that he likes to have time, run around the forehand. I tried to do that. It worked out pretty well.”
Thiem was playing in his first tournament since March after consecutive losses in Dubai and Doha. He has mostly struggled since winning the US Open for his first grand slam title.
“In general I’m super happy with the week,” Thiem said. “I would have never expected to be in the semifinals, to play in the semifinals a player like him. I cannot complain about anything. Just, of course, there are many things to improve.”
In the women’s doubles final, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both from the Czech Republic, defeated Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Demi Schuurs of France 6-4, 6-3.