Saudi quad driver fulfils personal promise by competing in Dakar Rally 2020

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Saudi quad driver Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi spoke to Arab News about his prospects in the Dakar Rally 2020. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Saudi quad driver Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi spoke to Arab News about his prospects in the Dakar Rally 2020. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 06 January 2020

Saudi quad driver fulfils personal promise by competing in Dakar Rally 2020

  • Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi said driving in the rally was one of his goals in 2020
  • It took him years to prepare for the event

JEDDAH: As the Saudi participants are getting their journeys in Dakar Rally underway, Saudi quad driver Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi spoke to Arab News about his prospects.
“It’s the first time I have participated in the Dakar, I hope it will be an amazing experience. I’ve been wishing to participate in the rally for ten years now.”
He said driving in the rally was one of his goals in 2020.
“Whenever the new year comes around, I write down all my goals for the year and Dakar is one of them. It’s every motorist’s and biker’s dream to participate in Dakar.
“Three years ago, I made a promise to myself that in 2020 I would participate in Dakar no matter where it takes place. And interestingly enough, it is taking place in the Kingdom. When I heard this, I had to participate, no matter what.”

Al-Khulaifi said that half his dream had come true by just participating in the rally. “The other half would be reaching Qiddiya. I don’t even want a podium, I just want to challenge myself through this sport.”
It took him years to prepare for the event.
“In 2013, I decided to take part in a motocross or rally, and narrowed the choice down to rallies. I stopped all other motorsports and focused on rallies to gain more experience.
“In the Kingdom, I’m very experienced in quads. Three months ago, I participated in a championship in the Eastern Province and won first place in quads and second place in the overall ranking.
“There are many amazing bikers in the Kingdom being discovered now. I also participated in championships in the Gulf; UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain. My experience taught me so much, I learned everything through my participation in such events.”
Al-Khulaifi didn’t believe the news that the Dakar Rally is taking place in the Kingdom until Saudi rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi confirmed it.
“I couldn’t sleep when I heard the news. Any championship I ever participated in the Kingdom was to prepare myself for Dakar. It is a dream come true and I have my family and loved ones with me and supporting me all the way.”
He added: “I do feel pressured because I’m a topic on Twitter and I’m receiving great support online. I want to give it my best.
“It’s very interesting to have world champions reading about me, too. One of them was asking me about the topographies on day one and two. I have driven in AlUla before and it’s nice to be familiar with the area and know what to expect. I can differentiate between the types of sand in certain areas too.”
He also talked about the psychological aspect in the challenges of the rally.
“Imagine being alone in the desert for five hours, you are the racer, the mechanic, everything. I’ve gotten used to being alone. I participate in rallies on a monthly basis and work out regularly practicing cross-fit. Cross-fit has played a role in my motorsport journey as it taught me patience and endurance. The two sports have similarities, grip, controlling your breathing, they have the same atmosphere and I try to maintain this atmosphere and mindset.”

 


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”