Greek despair gifts bronze for Saudi Arabia’s Ali Yousef Al-Othman at Youth Olympics

Ali Yousef Al-Othman snatched bronze thanks to a Greek tantrum. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2018

Greek despair gifts bronze for Saudi Arabia’s Ali Yousef Al-Othman at Youth Olympics

  • Gerasimos Galiatsatos' disqualification meant Al-Othman sneaked into third place.
  • Saudi's aim is now to make it to the Olympics proper.

BUENOS AIRES: The Olympians of Ancient Greece would likely not approve. Inside the Europe Pavilion and competing in the 85kg weightlifting category at the Youth Olympic Games, Greek athlete Gerasimos Galiatsatos showed a distinct lack of sporting spirit on Friday night as an angry meltdown left his training team ashamed, a volunteer being shoved in the chest, and the capacity crowd booing his very presence in the hall. 
It also, however, helped Saudi Arabia’s Ali Yousef Al-Othman claim a medal, the Kingdom’s fortuitous first of the two-week Games.
Galiatsatos was the outstanding favorite for gold, but was deemed to have failed three times to correctly lift his chosen 150kg weight during the snatch and was disqualified. His reaction was to repeatedly thump the floor furiously before his coach tried to forcibly lead away. However, having wrestled free, the 17-year-old jumped the security barrier into the crowd, removed his shirt, and frogmarched a reluctant member of his team toward the judges, violently pushing a volunteer out of the way as he went and sparking castigation from the crowd. 
After a brief delay, Al-Othman capitalized in clean and jerk, lifting 169kg for a total score of 299kg and securing bronze behind Italy’s Cristiano Ficco (325kg) and Tarmenkhan Babayev of Azerbaijan (316kg). Galiatsatos watched from the bleachers, his head in his hands.  
“I can understand his anger because he felt the jury were wrong,” Al-Othman told Arab News. “That would be frustrating for anyone. I can only thank God for what happened. I expected to compete and hoped to get a medal, so I feel very proud to raise the flag of Saudi Arabia and achieve this for my country.”
Al-Othman’s coach Khaled Qur'any worked with Egypt at the past two Olympics, helping them win four medals. He said Galiatsatos “could have won easily,” but was “too arrogant,” adding, “in sport, you must be humble.” He insisted the Greek’s disqualification should take nothing away from Al-Othman’s performance.  
“The result was no surprise,” said the Egyptian coach. “We predicted this medal one year ago. He has developed by 70kg in 12 months. When I first saw him he was 69kg and I said to his coach, take this boy to the camp because with good training and a clever diet we can make something of him and achieve good things here. And that’s what we have done. Now he is 84kg and a Youth Olympic medallist. We can be proud, but we cannot stop.”
The Khobar-based weightlifter only turned 16 in June, but has been involved in the sport from childhood, following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, who both lifted. He was also part of the Saudi delegation that traveled to Jakarta for the Asian Games in August. Having now won a medal at the Youth Olympics, his dream is to reach the Olympics proper.
“Inshallah. I will do everything I can do make that next dream come true,” he said, revealing he plans to keep his medal “somewhere in my house where I can see it everyday, as a memory of this moment.”
Qur'any though is keen to keep his athlete’s feet firmly on the ground, insisting that Tokyo 2020 will arrive too soon for him and warning that dreams do not come true without absolute commitment. Even then you can often be reliant on other people and federations. 
“Ali is only 16 years old, but we took him to the Asian Games so he could gain the experience to allow him to come here unafraid,” said Qur'any. “He did well here. But to go to an Olympics and win you need to work too hard: train, train, train. Without that commitment from all parties, it is impossible. 
“In Saudi Arabia, weightlifters are not professional, but maybe this medal can change things. It’s the first in the country’s history in weightlifting, so I hope it shows people — not only Ali but all people there — that hard work pays off.”


Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

  • First woman from the Kingdom to compete in the championship in Indonesia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is sending its first woman to compete in the 55th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup that begins in Indonesia.

Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.

Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating in the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating in the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The men’s competition started Sunday at 9 p.m.

The women’s competition will begin at 3 p.m. today, where Mashael will take part in six rounds. The competition will run until Nov. 24.

HIGHLIGHT

  • Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.
  • Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating at the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating at the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The competition continues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and after completing 24 rounds, the top 24 players will be selected to compete for the top eight positions by playing eight runs on Friday. On Saturday, the best four female players and four male players will be chosen to compete in the finals.

Abdulrahman said that he is looking forward to the world cup. “This year there is a new advantage and that is having teammate Mashael joining me for the first time. I’m proud of her! It’s a big thing for Saudi women and for us in the team because this world exposure will help them to learn and give them an incentive to develop their skills,” he said.

The 20-year-old player has been bowling for the past 10 years. Despite his young age, thanks to his perseverance and sense of discipline he managed to win many victories, but the most distinguished were those in 2018. He delivered the bronze medal at the World Cup in Detroit, and two bronzes at the Asian Bowling Championship in the Philippines in the same year, and a gold medal for the trio event at the Arab Bowling Championship in Oman.

Mashael, 32, was only able to play officially last year in February 2018 when the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) received the decree to allow women to play in sports. However, she has been playing for fun since early childhood when she used to travel to Egypt with her family and where she managed to learn from the professionals and get hooked on the game. Mashael was chosen to take part in the Egypt Arab Championship and World Bowling Women’s Championship in Las Vegas in August 2018.

Mashael said: “Playing for fun is definitely enjoyable but when you wear your country’s flag that’s a huge responsibility put on your shoulder. You become an ambassador and a role model and when I’m put in that situation, I definitely want to give my all to be fit for that honor, and give the best image worthy of our beloved country.”

The bowlers expressed their gratitude to the Saudi Bowling Federation and its president Bader bin Abdullah Al-Alsheikh for his support and for creating opportunities for them so that they can progress, enrich their experiences and win awards and achievements.