Extreme E organizers promise whole new experience for drivers, audience as ‘Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally’ in AlUla

Extreme E's Desert X Prix will take place in AlUla on April 3-4. (Supplied/Extreme E)
Extreme E's Desert X Prix will take place in AlUla on April 3-4. (Supplied/Extreme E)
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Updated 30 March 2021

Extreme E organizers promise whole new experience for drivers, audience as ‘Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally’ in AlUla

Extreme E's Desert X Prix will take place in AlUla on April 3-4. (Supplied/Extreme E)
  • Inaugural race will see fans help determine Desert X Prix finals’ grid positions through GridPlay
  • Nine teams, 18 drivers to compete in very first electric SUV event, Desert X Prix

ALULA: Extreme E’s first race weekend, the Desert X Prix, gets under starter’s orders on Saturday in AlUla and a bumper field of teams and drivers are all set for an epic journey likened by organizers to “Star Wars pod racing meets Dakar Rally.”

Alejandro Agag, the founder and CEO of Extreme E, said he could not put into words how proud and excited he was about staging the event.

“A huge amount of hard work under unprecedented circumstances has gone on behind the scenes to get this revolutionary racing series together and I can’t wait to see some of the biggest names in motorsport go head-to-head in just a few days.

“But Extreme E isn’t just a race for a trophy, it is about something much bigger, the race for our planet is real and there is no finish line in sight.

“I’m delighted that we will reveal our all-important Legacy Program here in Saudi Arabia later this week. Through the power of sport, we look forward to highlighting some of the environmental challenges the world is facing, and the solutions we can all take,” he added.

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AlUla in Saudi Arabia will witness the launch of a motorsport series that is aiming to raise awareness of the impact of global climate change. Here is all you need to know about the new series.

On Saturday, April 3 nine teams will take part in four qualifying rounds, each lasting 15 minutes, with the top four advancing to the first semi-final and the remaining five going through to the second semi – the Crazy Race – both of which will take place on Sunday.

The three teams topping the leaderboard in the first semi, and the first and second-placed in the Crazy Race will progress to the final later that same day, with the winning driver pairing taking overall victory to lift the very first Extreme E trophy.

Each of the teams’ two drivers – one male and one female – will complete a lap before the Switch, and teams can choose which driver goes first. The course is centered around three canyons in the vast desert which surrounds AlUla. The full course layout will be revealed on Friday.

Fans can get involved via GridPlay, which puts the starting line-up for the Desert X Prix final in their hands. From March 31 until 60 minutes after the start of the Crazy Race on Sunday, fans will be able to vote twice per day via the Extreme E website and on Twitter using #GridPlay #DriverName for their favorite driver, with the votes added together to complete the team standings.

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The Extreme E Odyssey SUV, which will feature in the inaugural race of the Extreme E racing series in Saudi Arabia next month, has been praised by Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, host of the BBC motoring show Top Gear. Click here to find out what he said.

The teams that do not reach the concluding race have an important role to play too, in gifting their votes to a team of their choice, so every vote really will count. And the team with the most votes will then be able to select its starting position for the Desert X Prix final, followed by the team with the second-most votes and so on. 

To minimize local impact, Extreme E races will not be open to spectators, with fans instead invited to follow the action through live TV broadcasts on KSA Sports and MBC, and across social media via @SAMF_GOV, @GSAKSA, and @ExtremeELive.

Here are the nine teams taking part:

ABT CUPRA XE – #125 – Mattias Ekstrom / Claudia Hurtgen

ACCIONA Sainz XE Team – #55 – Carlos Sainz / Laia Sanz

Andretti United – #23 – Timmy Hansen / Catie Munnings

Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing – #99 – Kyle LeDuc / Sara Price

Hispano Suiza Xite Energy Team – #42 – Oliver Bennett / Christine Giampaoli

JBXE – #22 – Jenson Button / Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky

Rosberg X Racing – #6 – Johan Kristoffersson / Molly Taylor

Veloce Racing – #5 – Stephane Sarrazin / Jamie Chadwick

X44 – #44 – Sebastien Loeb / Cristina Gutierrez


Jordan’s Abdel Rahman Al-Masatfa confirms semifinal place, and Olympic medal, in Tokyo 2020 Karate competition

Jordan’s Abdel Rahman Al-Masatfa confirms semifinal place, and Olympic medal, in Tokyo 2020 Karate competition
Updated 13 min 5 sec ago

Jordan’s Abdel Rahman Al-Masatfa confirms semifinal place, and Olympic medal, in Tokyo 2020 Karate competition

Jordan’s Abdel Rahman Al-Masatfa confirms semifinal place, and Olympic medal, in Tokyo 2020 Karate competition
  • The 25-year-old will face Eray Samdan of Turkey on Thursday afternoon knowing at least a bronze medal is now guaranteed

A four-match winning streak has seen Abdel Rahman Al-Masatfa of Jordan confirm a semifinal place, and a Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal, in the Karate Kumite -67kg competition on Thursday morning at the Nippon Budokan arena in the Japanese capital.

He will now fight Eray Samdan of Turkey in their last four match (from 3pm KSA). While the winners of the semifinals meet in the gold medal match, the losers will each receive a bronze medal.

The 25-year-old Al-Masatfa kicked of his participation in Pool B with an 8-3 win over  Kalvis Kalnins  of Latvia, and followed that up with 7-4 win over the Frenchman Steven da Costa.

After his bout against Angelo Crescenzo was cancelled due to the Italian pulling out of the competition, Al-Masatfa continued his winning run by beating Hamoon Derafshipour of the Refugee Olympic Team 3-0.

The Jordanian rounded up his Pool B matches with 4-1 win over Andres Eduardo Madera Delgado of Venezuela to secure his semi-final spot.

Meanwhile, Ali Elsawy of Egypt, fighting in the Kumite -67 Pool A, lost his opening bout 4-3 to Japan’s Naoto Sago, before losing his second match 4-1 to eventual semifinalist Samdan.

The 26-year-old Egyptian got back to winning way when he narrowly overcame Firdovsi Farzaliyev of Azerbaijan 1-0.

However, Elsawy lost his last Pool A match 3-1 to Darkhan Assadilov of Kazakhstan to exit the competition.


Disappointing morning sees three Arab wrestlers exit Tokyo 2020

Disappointing morning sees three Arab wrestlers exit Tokyo 2020
Updated 49 min 31 sec ago

Disappointing morning sees three Arab wrestlers exit Tokyo 2020

Disappointing morning sees three Arab wrestlers exit Tokyo 2020
  • Amr Reda Ramadan Hussen of Egypt reached the quarterfinal of the men’s freestyle 74kg competition before being knocked out

Thursday morning proved a hugely disappointing one for Arab wrestlers, as two Egyptian athletes and one from Algeria exited Tokyo 2020 at Makuhari Messe Hall in the Japanese capital.

Amr Reda Ramadan Hussen of Egypt started well, winning his men’s freestyle 74 kg round of 16 match 6-1 against Kamil Rybicki of Poland. Unfortunately, that would prove to be the day’s only success for the North African wrestlers.

Hussen went on to lose his quarterfinal 8-5 to Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Kaisanov to miss out on a chance of securing a shot at a medal.

Meanwhile, in the men’s freestyle 125 kg competition, Diaaeldin Kamal Gouda Abdelmottaleb of Egypt and Djahid Berrahal of Algeria were both comprehensively defeated in their round of 16 bouts.

Abdelmottaleb went down 11-0 to Geno Petriashvili of Georgia, while Berrahal lost 6-0 to Egzon Shala of Kosovo.

The results came a day after Egyptian wrestler Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed won a bronze medal in the men’s Greco-Roman 67 kg event after beating Artrem Surkov of the Russian Olympic Committee at Makuhari Messe Hall.

Elsayed’s compatriot Mohamed Metwally had fallen just short of success, losing his own 87 kg bronze medal match 8-1 to the German Denis Kudla.


New national record not enough for Algerian to win Tokyo 2020 men’s triple jump medal

New national record not enough for Algerian to win Tokyo 2020 men’s triple jump medal
Updated 58 min 2 sec ago

New national record not enough for Algerian to win Tokyo 2020 men’s triple jump medal

New national record not enough for Algerian to win Tokyo 2020 men’s triple jump medal
  • Yasser Mohamed Triki finishes fifth with a jump of 17.43, just 4 cm behind the bronze medal winner

A supreme effort by Algerian Yasser Mohamed Triki saw him fall 4cm outside the medal places in the men’s triple jump competition at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on Thursday morning.

A jump of 17.43m — a new Algerian record — saw him finish fifth, behind new champion Pedro Pichardo of Portugal (17.98), silver medalist Yaming Zhu of China (17.57), bronze medal winner Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso (17.47), and the American Will Claye, who finished in fourth just 1cm ahead of Triki.

The 24-year-old Triki had finished third with a jump of 17.05 in the qualifying round on Tuesday to book his place in this morning’s final.

His career-best performances came at the 2019 African Games in Rabat, where he won gold in the long jump and silver in the triple jump.


Exclusive: Israeli judoka Raz Hershko lauds ‘brave’ Saudi opponent Tahani Al-Qahtani

Exclusive: Israeli judoka Raz Hershko lauds ‘brave’ Saudi opponent Tahani Al-Qahtani
Updated 04 August 2021

Exclusive: Israeli judoka Raz Hershko lauds ‘brave’ Saudi opponent Tahani Al-Qahtani

Exclusive: Israeli judoka Raz Hershko lauds ‘brave’ Saudi opponent Tahani Al-Qahtani

DUBAI: Two female judokas, one mat, one Olympic contest. That the two athletes competing, Tahani Al-Qahtani and Raz Hershko, happened to be from Saudi Arabia and Israel, made the recent first round of the women’s judo 78-kilogram-class meeting at Tokyo 2020 more than just an ordinary bout.

The two countries have no formal relations and no history of sporting competition to speak of. Furthermore, regional politics and boycotts movements have made it a norm that Arab athletes refuse to take part in any match opposite an Israeli counterpart in fear that this might be interpreted as a form of recognition.

This is why, in an exclusive interview with Arab News, Israeli judoka Hershko had made it a point to praise the bravery of Al-Qahtani. Not only did the Saudi judoka defy popular calls by hatemongers to boycott the match, but she participated knowing very well that Hershko has far more international experience and was clearly the likely winner.

The 23-year-old Israeli said: “I think it is amazing that we both put politics aside to do something we love. I was super excited that anything can happen at the Olympics.

“I knew it was rare for an (Arab) to accept to fight like this, but I was so excited when she accepted. Both of us put politics to the side and did what we loved together in the match.”

Algerian Fethi Nourine and Sudan’s Mohammed Abdalrasool had withdrawn from the judo men’s plus-73-kg competition rather than face the possibility of taking on an Israeli athlete. But Al-Qahtani chose to compete against Hershko, a decision that drew praise from Japanese media and prompted a wave of support from high-profile figures and sports fans in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qahtani was the last of the Kingdom’s 33 athletes to confirm her place at Tokyo 2020, her wild card selection making her only the second female judoka from the country to participate in the Olympics since the 2012 London Games. The two women had walked out side-by-side onto the mat ahead of what turned out to be a tough match for the inexperienced 22-year-old Saudi. As the fight progressed, Hershko racked up the points, eventually beating Al-Qahtani 11-0.

“It was a tough fight in the beginning. She (Al-Qahtani) was brave to take on the fight despite pressure from hatemongers about her decision to fight me,” Hershko added. The victor pointed out that she and Al-Qahtani were simply human beings, females from different countries, playing in a match. “I don’t think it was different from fighting someone from the US or South Africa. It was great that Al-Qahtani bravely accepted and let politics stay out of the picture.”

After Al-Qahtani’s loss, some questioned whether the pressure of the situation had affected her performance.

While Al-Qahtani was not available for comment, Hershko noted the importance of the match and how sport could be a uniting force at a time when politics in the Middle East continued to be a hot topic, even after several countries had normalized relations with Israel.

“Politics has nothing to do with it, it was a good match,” said Hershko.

In a statement after the bout, the International Judo Federation said: “This game shows that sports can transcend political and external influences.”

Al-Qahtani’s courageous performance on and off the judo mat demonstrated a notable shift in Saudi Arabia, and an openness to rise above current geopolitics in the realm of sports and culture, both avenues that could bring people from opposing nations together.

On whether she would accept an invitation to compete in Saudi Arabia, Hershko said: “Of course, why not?”


Qatar beats Italy to reach men’s beach volleyball semifinals in Tokyo

Qatar beats Italy to reach men’s beach volleyball semifinals in Tokyo
Updated 04 August 2021

Qatar beats Italy to reach men’s beach volleyball semifinals in Tokyo

Qatar beats Italy to reach men’s beach volleyball semifinals in Tokyo
  • Duo of Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan are now on a five-match winning streak ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Russian Olympic Committee team

TOKYO: Qatar has reached the Tokyo 2020 beach volleyball men’s semifinal after beating Italy in straight sets at Shiokaze Park on Wednesday evening.
The Qatari duo of Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan put on an impressive display to defeat the Italian team of Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo 2-0 (21-17, 23-21) in the quarterfinal.
The Qatari athletes, both 26, will now take on Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) on Thursday afternoon (from 4pm KSA).
On Sunday, Younousse and Tijan defeated the US 2-1 (14-21, 21-19,15-11) in the round of 16 to reach today’s last-eight match.
Qatar’s beach volleyball team is now on a five-match winning streak at Tokyo 2020.
The started their Olympic campaign on July 25 by beating Switzerland 2-1 (21-17, 21-16) in their preliminary round — Group C match.
They followed that up with two more group victories; a 2-1 win over Italy three days later, and a 2-0 against the US last Friday.