Lionel Messi wins record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award

Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award on Monday, beating Liverpool's four leading nominees to claim soccer's most prestigious individual trophy. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Lionel Messi wins record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award

  • He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal
  • Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women's Ballon d'Or

PARIS: Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth men's Ballon d'Or award on Monday, beating Liverpool's four leading nominees to claim soccer's most prestigious individual trophy.

The Argentine, who won the Liga title with Barcelona but only managed third place in the Copa America with his country, added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 trophies.

He beat Virgil van Dijk, the runner-up, and third-placed Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal, who has won the award five times.

"Ten years ago I received my first Ballon d’Or, guided by my three brothers," Messi told the audience. "Today I receive my sixth, guided by my wife and children."

Senegal's Sadio Mane, who with Van Dijk and fellow nominees Alisson Becker of Brazil and Egypt's Mohamed Salah, helped Liverpool win the Champions League, was fourth in the poll of international journalists.

"It was amazing," said Van Dijk. "There are a couple of players like him (Messi) who are fantastic. I'm proud of what I've achieved with Liverpool and Holland. It's going to be tough (to win the award) when these guys are around."

Messi, whose sterling career was once again rewarded, and Ronaldo, between them had won 10 consecutive Ballon d'Or awards until Croatia's Luka Modric prevailed in 2018.

INCREDIBLE YEAR
Megan Rapinoe earlier won the women's Ballon d'Or after leading the United States to a record-extending fourth World Cup title in France this year as they retained the trophy.

The 34-year-old midfielder, the standout player at the June-July tournament, succeeded Norway's Ada Hegerberg who did not take part in the World Cup.Rapinoe was not present at the ceremony in the Theatre du Chatelet, where the show 'An American In Paris' is on.

"I'm so sad I can't make it tonight. It's absolutely incredible congrats to the other nominees. I can't believe I'm the one winning in this field, it's been an incredible year," Rapinoe said in a recorded message.

"I want to thank my team mates and the U.S. federation."

Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, a key player in Ajax Amsterdam's thrilling run to the Champions League semi-finals and now at Juventus, won the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 male player.

Alisson, one of the four Liverpool players in the top seven for the men's Ballon d'Or, was awarded the new Yashin trophy for the best male goalkeeper of the year.

There was, however, no trophy for the best female Under-21 player or keeper.


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.