Judoka who fled Iran over Israeli matchup wins silver in Tel Aviv Grand Slam

Judoka who fled Iran over Israeli matchup wins silver in Tel Aviv Grand Slam
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Iranian-born Mongolian judoka Saeid Mollaei (white) competes against Uzbekistan's Sharofiddin Boltaboev during the finals of the men's under 81kg category of Tel Aviv Grand Slam 2021. (AFP)
Judoka who fled Iran over Israeli matchup wins silver in Tel Aviv Grand Slam
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Iranian-born Mongolian judoka Saeid Mollaei (white) competes against Uzbekistan's Sharofiddin Boltaboev during the finals of the men's under 81kg category of Tel Aviv Grand Slam 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 20 February 2021

Judoka who fled Iran over Israeli matchup wins silver in Tel Aviv Grand Slam

Judoka who fled Iran over Israeli matchup wins silver in Tel Aviv Grand Slam
  • Saeid Mollaei, a 2018 judo world champion, fled Iran for Germany after saying Iranian authorities had put pressure on him to drop out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo

TEL AVIV: An Iranian judoka who fled his country after ignoring orders to drop out of a match in 2019 to avoid facing an Israeli won a silver medal on Friday at an international tournament in Israel.
Saeid Mollaei, a 2018 judo world champion, fled Iran for Germany after saying Iranian authorities had put pressure on him to drop out of the 2019 world championships in Tokyo to avoid a potential final round against Israeli contender Sagi Muki.
Mollaei, who refused to pull out and reached the semifinal in Tokyo, gained refugee status in Germany and later became a citizen of Mongolia, which he represented at the International Judo Federation’s Tel Aviv Grand Slam.
“I compete for Mongolia. I don’t compete for Iran ... I play sports. I have always been an athlete, never political,” Mollaei told Israeli public broadcaster Kansas
Mollaei advanced to the contest finals in the 81kg category after winning matches against contenders from Azerbaijan, Italy and Germany. Audience members at the contest cheered and applauded his victories.
In the two-stage final round, Mollaei won the silver medal after beating Russia’s Aslan Lappinagov but then losing to Uzbekistan’s Sharofiddin Boltaboev, who took gold.
Speaking with reporters after the contest, with a silver medal around his neck, Mollaei told reporters, in English, that “Israeli people (are) very friendly, and have a good heart.”
Iran, which has refused to recognize Israel since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, was banned indefinitely from international judo competition after the Mollaei incident.
Arash Mir Ismaili, head of Iran’s judo federation, told the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday that Mollaei had “turned (his) back on the ideals of the regime and the country’s goals ... which is shameful.”
Muki, who won the world title in Tokyo and is competing in Tel Aviv, posted a photo on Twitter of the two of them smiling together, captioned with the words “Welcome brother,” and the Israeli, Iranian and Mongolian flags.
Muki was knocked out of the contest on Friday after losing his first match to Sami Chouchi of Belarus.
Some 421 competitors from 60 countries are competing in the Tel Aviv Grand Slam, organizers said. Competitors arriving from foreign countries were given special exemptions from a travel ban imposed by Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom
Updated 14 sec ago

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom
  • Joint venture will deliver Platinum TE Paspalum, with both Bermudagrass and Zoysia to follow in due course
  • Several of the leading golf and landscaping projects in Saudi Arabia have secured their grass supply from Atlas Turf Arabia and the turf farm will harvest the first order of turf in Q4 2021

RIYADH: Atlas Turf Arabia, in partnership with Golf Saudi, is set to develop and distribute some of the world’s most climatically-adapted turf species throughout Saudi Arabia, starting with Platinum TE Paspalum, with both Bermudagrass and Zoysia to follow in due course.

The joint venture, which was initially agreed in 2019 to develop the region’s first internationally licensed golf and sports turf farm in Saudi Arabia, has now received its foreign investment license from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Investment, and commercial registration from the Ministry of Commerce.

“Atlas Turf Arabia will serve as a vital link in the supply chain framework in Saudi Arabia, fulfilling the objectives of Vision 2030, by providing access to turf grass solutions for Saudi-based organizations who require it,” said Majed-Al Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi.

“Golf Saudi is committed to not only securing the very best turf solutions for its own needs but to also do so by the most socially and environmentally conscious means possible,” he said. “By owning and operating our very own state-of-the-art turf farm, via Atlas Turf Arabia, we are able to not only source product sustainably but also create new job opportunities for Saudi nationals to operate the site locally, which is a key objective of Golf Saudi’s Social Agenda.”

The Social Agenda is Golf Saudi’s initiative to create additional educational and employment opportunities within the Kingdom. By also offering sustainable turf solutions to projects outside of golf, including other sports federations and organizations, as well as infrastructure and landscaping projects, Atlas Turf Arabia will continue to add further employees to its overall headcount in the months and years ahead. Several of the leading golf and landscaping projects in Saudi Arabia have secured their grass supply from Atlas Turf Arabia and the turf farm will harvest the first order of turf in Q4 2021.

Atlas Turf Arabia will also work closely with GEO Foundation, the international non-profit that for the last 15 years has been entirely dedicated to accelerating sustainability and climate action across golf.

“The establishment of Atlas Turf Arabia and the opening of our first turf farm in Saudi Arabia is the culmination of our mission to provide high quality, sustainable solutions for turfgrass projects worldwide,” John Holmes, president of Atlas Turf International, said.

“We are incredibly proud to play our part in not only working with new customers and supplying unique projects across the Middle East, but to also creating a positive and long-lasting legacy through the creation of new jobs and training opportunities for Saudi citizens,” he added. 

“This is just the first step in Atlas Turf Arabia’s journey to create a regional team capable of achieving its long-term and sustainable vision for the future of turfgrasses, not just in golf but other unique projects too.”


Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
Updated 26 October 2021

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
  • Teenager will take part in short-distance tournament at Etihad Arena from Dec. 16-21

ABU DHABI: Tunisian Olympic gold medalist Ahmed Hafnaoui will compete in the upcoming FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in the UAE.

The tournament is set to take place at the Etihad Arena from Dec. 16 to 21, event organizer Abu Dhabi Sports Council has announced.

Hafnaoui, 18, won gold after an outstanding performance in the 400-meter freestyle at Tokyo 2020 with a record time of three minutes and 43 seconds.

The teenage swimmer will race against some of the sport’s elite at this year’s championships, with further athlete announcements due in November, before the full field is confirmed in December.

More than 1,000 athletes from 180 countries are expected to descend on the UAE capital to compete in 44 world championship title events over six days for a total $2.8 million prize pool.

Hafnaoui will be joined by fellow Arab representatives including Emirati swimmers Layla Al-Khatib, and Youssef Al-Matrooshi, who represented the UAE in the 100-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Games.


Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup
Updated 26 October 2021

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup
  • All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes

SHARJAH: Offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and legspinner Rashid Khan bowled Scotland for 60 as Afghanistan started the T20 World Cup with a massive 130-run victory on Monday.
Mujeeb claimed three wickets in an over to finish with 5-20 while Rashid (4-9) ran through the tail quickly to dismiss Scotland in just 10.2 overs and raise Afghanistan’s biggest win in a T20.
Afghanistan had earlier posted a daunting total of 190-5 in its opening Group 2 match after skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bat.
“This was our plan, to bat first and put a big score,” Nabi said with a broad smile at the presentation ceremony. “Our openers started really well and finished the powerplay with a good score. … Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are among the best (bowlers) in the world.”
All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes with Najibullah Zadran leading the way by scoring 59 off 34 balls.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (46) smashed four sixes while opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai (44) hit three sixes and three fours to set the tone for a big total.
Scotland had upset Bangladesh in the qualifiers and advanced with convincing victories over first-timer Papua New Guinea and co-host Oman.
Opener George Munsey (25) started the run-chase in style by reverse sweeping offspinner Nabi for a six and a four in the first over as they raced to 27-0 in three overs.
But the wheels came off quickly in the fourth over when Mujeeb grabbed three wickets off five deliveries.
Mujeeb had Coetzer clean bowled and followed it up by trapping Calum MacLeod lbw on the backfoot off the next ball. Richie Berrington was out soon after when Mujeeb had him leg before wicket — again on the backfoot.
Recalled wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad then took a stunning diving catch to his right to dismiss Matthew Cross off fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq before Mujeeb made it 37-5 in no time when he rattled Munsey’s stump in his next over.
Rashid resigned from the captaincy before the tournament, saying he had not been consulted on the team selection. But the legspinner bemused Scotland’s tailenders in a 14-ball spell by claiming four wickets to wrap up big win.
“We have been playing some good cricket to get here, but sometimes things don’t go to plan,” Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer said. “We have to keep moving forward.”
Pakistan, which routed archrival India by 10 wickets on Sunday, and Namibia are the other teams in the same group.


Goal rush as foreign contingent take center stage in ninth round of Saudi Pro League season

Goal rush as foreign contingent take center stage in ninth round of Saudi Pro League season
Updated 26 October 2021

Goal rush as foreign contingent take center stage in ninth round of Saudi Pro League season

Goal rush as foreign contingent take center stage in ninth round of Saudi Pro League season
  • Overseas players score 18 of 22 goals in latest round of matches featuring 16 SPL clubs

Overseas players took center stage in the ninth round of the 2021-22 Saudi Professional League season, with the eight fixtures producing 22 goals at rate of 2.75 goals per match.

Foreign players at the 16 top-flight Saudi clubs continued to shine, scoring 18 of the 22 goals, with doubles notched by Syrian striker Omar Al-Soma in Al-Ahli’s 2-1 win away to Al-Tai; the Nigerian Odion Ighalo in Al-Shabab’s 2-0 victory over Al-Ittihad; and Argentine Luciano Vietto for Al-Hilal in the 3-2 win over Al-Raed, in which the winning goal came from Frenchman Bafetimbi Gomis.

Romain Amalfitano, Al-Faisaly’s French midfielder, scored a late equalizer against Al-Taawoun to secure a 2-2 draw for his team, while Emilio Zelaya of Argentina grabbed the only goal goal of the match for Damac against Al-Hazem to take his is team to the top of the SPL standings with 18 points.

Meanwhile, Al-Ettifaq’s Slovakian midfielder Filip Kiss converted a penalty in the 1-0 win against Al-Nassr at the end of the round, which also witnessed goals by Guilherme Augusto (Al-Faisaly), Saad Bguir (Abha), Mitchell te Vrede (Abha), Cedric Amissi (Al-Taawoun), Christian Cueva (Al-Fateh), Eder Lopes (Al-Raed), Lucas Alves (Al-Tai) and Renato Chavez (Al-Batin).

The Saudi quartet of Fahad Al-Jumayah (Abha), Yousef Al-Shammari (Al-Batin), Yahya Al-Shehri (Al-Raed) and Sumayhan Al-Nabit (Al-Taawoun) completed the scoring with a goal each.


All signs point to Jeddah as world’s top women golfers prepare for $2m Saudi Arabia double-header

All signs point to Jeddah as world’s top women golfers prepare for $2m Saudi Arabia double-header
Updated 26 October 2021

All signs point to Jeddah as world’s top women golfers prepare for $2m Saudi Arabia double-header

All signs point to Jeddah as world’s top women golfers prepare for $2m Saudi Arabia double-header
  • Aramco Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series, Jeddah events in November ‘will bring new generation to the sport’

Some of the biggest names in women’s golf will head to Saudi Arabia in November for back-to-back Aramco Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series Jeddah tournaments.

The two events will take place at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in nearby King Abdullah Economic City and, together, form the Kingdom’s debut Women in Sport Season.

Leading players on the Ladies European Tour will compete for a total of $2 million in the space of a fortnight.

First up is the Aramco Saudi Ladies International (Nov. 4-7), presented by the Public Investment Fund, in which almost 100 players will go head to head for a share of $1 million in prize money.

The final of four Aramco Team Series events — launched on the Ladies European Tour for the first time this year — will take place from Nov. 10-12, with the Jeddah leg following tournaments in London, Spain and New York.

The new format sees three professional players team up with an amateur player and then compete for a share of $800,000, with the best individual scorers also battling for a $200,000 prize fund.

The individual category of this month’s New York leg was won by England’s Charley Hull, who returns to Saudi Arabia after competing in last year’s debut tournament.

Speaking after her win in New York, the 25-year-old Hull said: “I’ve loved the Aramco Team Series and played in every event so far — London, Spain, New York and Saudi Arabia is now next. I can’t wait. I played in Saudi last year and thought it was a great event. The golf course was lovely, so I’m really looking forward to getting back.”

She added: “The Aramco Team Series isn’t just a great event for the women on tour, but also for the amateurs who get to play and the fans who get to watch. It’s a lot of fun. For me, it will be great to get back to Saudi, especially with the support Golf Saudi and Aramco are giving the sport. Since last year’s first event I’ve heard that a lot of young girls out in Saudi Arabia are taking up golf, which is so good to hear.”

Joining Hull at Royal Greens will be Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen, who recorded a clean sweep in the Kingdom last year when she won the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund, then both the team and individual elements in what was then the Saudi Ladies Team International, the precursor to the Aramco Team Series.

“Last year was such a fantastic experience for me in Saudi Arabia,” Pedersen said. “I loved the course, the weather, the people were so nice, and it was just a great 10 days. I obviously have such fond memories so going back will certainly be special for me.”

“The Aramco Saudi Ladies International felt like a big moment in women’s golf — something the Aramco Team Series has really built on this year, building our game even further. I’ve really enjoyed all three ATS events so far this season, and I know the final one in Jeddah will be awesome, too.”

Other names taking part are England’s Annabel Dimmock, Anna Nordqvist of Sweden, Minjee Lee of Australia and Georgia Hall, also of England.