13-time winner, ‘Mr Dakar’ Stephane Peterhansel wins stage 4 in AlUla as Carlos Sainz keeps the lead in Saudi Arabia

Mini's French driver Stephane Peterhansel and his Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiuza during the Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally 2020 between Neom and AlUla. (AFP)
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Updated 08 January 2020

13-time winner, ‘Mr Dakar’ Stephane Peterhansel wins stage 4 in AlUla as Carlos Sainz keeps the lead in Saudi Arabia

  • The 453km special ran close to the historic Nabatean temples in AlUla
  • Overall leader Carlos Sainz finished third

ALULA, Saudi Arabia: Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, otherwise known as Mr.Dakar for his 13 victories in the marathon rally, clocked his first stage win of the 2020 race during Wednesday’s 672 kilometer charge from Neom to Al Ula.
Peterhansel and his Portuguese navigator Paulo Fiuza threw their Mini across the rocks and sand that made up the greater part of the 453k special which also ran close to the historic Nabatean temples, to finish stage four in 4hr 14min 34sec.

At one point they made a wrong turn which cut away some of their lead but they still came home 2min 26sec ahead of defending champion Nasser Al-Attiyah in his Toyota.
It was a defiant response from the Qatari who began the day with a three-minute penalty for not letting a rival through on stage three.
“It feels good after all that trouble in the first few days, even though we had a flat tire and got lost once,” said Peterhansel.
“It wasn’t a flawless special, but it feels great to take the win.
“There were more stones than expected and the final 60 kilometers were really difficult.”

Overall leader Carlos Sainz, who pulled out a stunning drive to win on Tuesday, finished third more than seven minutes behind Peterhansel.
The Spaniard retains the overall lead and is 3:03 ahead of Al-Attiyah and 11:42 in front of Peterhansel.
“Leading the charge was hard and Carlos lost some time, but he did an amazing job because it didn’t take him long to get back on track,” said Peterhansel.

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READ MORE: ARAB NEWS' DEDICATED DAKAR RALLY SPOTLIGHT

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Former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso couldn’t reproduce his great drive on stage three, finishing 26 minutes behind Peterhansel who gave a ringing endorsement of the new Saudi setting for the race.
“This new Dakar is brilliant,” said the Frenchman. “It has all the ingredients — superb landscapes, tricky navigation and enough difficulties to make a selection.
“The organizers have been perfect so far.”
Chilean Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo won the bikes category and is third in the overall standings, 8:31 behind his American Honda teammate Ricky Brabec.

 


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.”