Extreme E leaders look back on AlUla race ahead of Ocean X Prix in Senegal

Extreme E leaders look back on AlUla race ahead of Ocean X Prix in Senegal
Nico Rosberg, founder and CEO of Rosberg X Racing, celebrates winning the Desert X Prix in AlUla with drivers Molly Taylor and Johan Kristoffersson. (Sam Bloxham/LAT Images)
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Updated 18 May 2021

Extreme E leaders look back on AlUla race ahead of Ocean X Prix in Senegal

Extreme E leaders look back on AlUla race ahead of Ocean X Prix in Senegal
  • First-ever electric SUV event across Saudi Desert saw RXR lead the standings, followed by X44 and Andretti United

The very first Extreme E event in the Saudi Arabian deserts of AlUla just six weeks ago saw Rosberg X Racing (RXR) take both the race victory and the lead in the overall standings, to currently sit pretty at the top of the table on 35 points.

Although Lewis Hamilton’s X44 crossed the finish line in third, they currently occupy second in the overall table on 30 points after amassing more points in qualifying than Andretti United, who eventually finished second in the Final and are now in third place with 28 points.

With just seven points separating them, the trio of table-toppers is now in the final stages of preparations for the upcoming Ocean X Prix at Lac Rose, Dakar, Senegal, from May 29-30.

“To take victory in the first-ever Extreme E event was an amazing achievement,” Molly Taylor, half of RXR’s pairing, said. “Everyone in the team had worked so hard in the build-up to the event, so for me and Johan [Kristoffersson] to repay them all with the victory felt so special. The beauty of Extreme E is the extra buzz you get from racing for purpose, too, and it’s an even better feeling when you win for purpose.”

The team has spent the last few weeks analyzing the data taken from the dunes in Saudi Arabia with a view to preparing for the second X Prix in Senegal, where RXR will attempt to make another win.

“Senegal will be a brand new challenge for everyone, but that’s one of the greatest things about Extreme E: Every event is so unique,” said Taylor’s RXR teammate, Kristoffersson. “Despite the differences, we’ll do our best to improve on our performance in AlUla and aim to be competitive once again.”

Team founder and former Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg was cautious about maintaining the lead in Senegal.

“The team did an incredible job in Saudi Arabia to get the win, and we’re very proud to be the first X Prix winners in Extreme E history, but we know we need to stay focused if we are to remain at the front,” he said. “The series is already so competitive, but this team loves a challenge, and we can’t wait to go racing again in Senegal.”

X44 driver pairing Cristina Gutiérrez and Sébastien Loeb also had a successful weekend in Saudi Arabia, topping the qualifying standings and heading straight through to Semi-Final 1, and with a second-place finish, progressing to the Final. The team is now aiming for victory in Senegal.

“I’m looking forward to racing again in Senegal with Cristina. In the last race, obviously, there were things that didn’t go our way, but we showed that we’re a very competitive team and that we’re able to get results under pressure,” said Loeb. “The Ocean X Prix will be a totally new terrain and we have an incredible group of people working with us, so I’m excited to go to Senegal and fight again for a win.”

The team has been particularly focused on the all-important start, which proved vital for the final race position at the Desert X Prix. Senegal, however, poses a very different challenge.

“I’m really excited to get back in the car and race again in Senegal. Obviously, the final race in Saudi didn’t go exactly as planned but we got a great result overall, and it put us in a good position in the championship,” Gutiérrez said. “We learned a lot from the last race, and we’re going to take those learnings and make sure that we’re as competitive as possible.”

Meanwhile, Andretti United’s Catie Munnings proved herself to be one to watch following her epic three-wheel drive after suffering a puncture. Her strength and determination saw her bring the car home in one piece.

“Saudi Arabia certainly wasn’t plain sailing for us, especially with the puncture, but Timmy [Hansen] and I learned so much and to finish second in the final after a tricky start to the event was just awesome. Now we go into Senegal third in the standings, which is a really strong position to be in. We definitely feel well-prepared and ready to apply what we learned from Saudi at the Ocean X Prix — and hopefully score another podium!”

Ahead of Senegal, Hansen has been busy keeping physically fit through lots of running, even finishing the virtual Wings for Life Run to raise money for spinal cord research. He has completed some off-road training in the Polaris, supported Munnings in her RallyX Nordic debut in Höljes and also taken some important time off to celebrate his son Sam’s third birthday.

“I’ve had a productive few weeks, continuing with my training, fulfilling some sponsor obligations and also spending a bit of time with my family. It feels good to strike the right balance,” said Hansen. “It’s been great having Catie over in Sweden again too. We’ve done a full debrief from Saudi and know the areas where we can improve. We’re both feeling confident going into Senegal with a refreshed state of mind.”

The Ocean X Prix starts on May 29, and as the all-electric SUVs have been at sea traveling the globe on the series’ floating centerpiece, the St. Helena, teams will not be able to start preparations with the cars themselves until they touch down in Senegal.


Saudi rower Husein Alireza takes to the Sea Forest Waterway for final flourish at Tokyo 2020

Saudi rower Husein Alireza takes to the Sea Forest Waterway for final flourish at Tokyo 2020
Updated 28 July 2021

Saudi rower Husein Alireza takes to the Sea Forest Waterway for final flourish at Tokyo 2020

Saudi rower Husein Alireza takes to the Sea Forest Waterway for final flourish at Tokyo 2020
  • The 27-year-old has been racing at the Olympics with a damaged lung sustained in the weeks leading up to the competition

TOKYO: Saudi rower Husein Alireza continues his Olympic journey on Thursday morning when he takes part in the Men’s Single Scull Semifinal C/D on the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo.

The race offers him the chance to raise his ranking at Tokyo 2020 despite not being in medal contention.

On Sunday, Alireza who has been competing with a damaged lung, revealed to Arab News the strategy devised by his team at Tokyo 2020 that has allowed him to manage an injury-hit games. With the 27-year-old unable to perform at full capacity in all his races, a deliberately cautious Men’s Single Sculls Semifinal A/B meant he could focus of the Semifinal C/D and a chance to improve his overall ranking.

“It’s an exciting but tough line-up so we’ll evaluate how the body is feeling closer to the race,” Alireza said yesterday.

A serious rib injury in May had left Alireza with a punctured lung that stopped him training for weeks, and three races in three days in the high heat and humidity of Tokyo — which left three other competitors suffering with heat stroke — were always going to take a physical toll on Alireza, who has had trouble with his breathing in the conditions.

After only training for a few weeks before the start of the tournament, and with his lung capacity still down 10 percent his technical team decided on a path that would give him his highest possible finish.


Painful end for Saudi weightlifter at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Painful end for Saudi weightlifter at 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Updated 28 July 2021

Painful end for Saudi weightlifter at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Painful end for Saudi weightlifter at 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • Mahmoud Al-Ahmeed was injured during his third attempt at clean and jerk in the men’s 73-kilogram weightlifting competition
  • The 28-year-old Saudi finished 12th overall among 14 competitors in the event

TOKYO: Mahmoud Al-Ahmeed’s Olympic campaign came to a painful end when he was injured during Group B action of the men’s 73-kilogram weightlifting competition on Wednesday morning at the Tokyo International Forum.

The 28-year-old Saudi had a strong start with a score of 141 kg from his three attempts at snatch, which put him in second place in the early standing of the five-competitor group.

Al-Ahmeed followed that up with a lift of 165 kg in his first attempt of clean and jerk, giving him a total of 306 for the competition.

He was injured during his second attempt at 175 kg and held the back of his thigh in pain. It proved to be his last action of the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Saudi finished 12th overall among 14 competitors in the ​​men’s 73-kilogram weightlifting competition.

When the competition resumed on Wednesday afternoon, Shi Zhiyong of China won the gold medal by setting an Olympic and world record score of 364. Julio Reben Mayora Pernia of Venezuela (346) took silver, followed by Indonesia’s Rahmat Erwin Abdullah (342) with the bronze.

It was a disappointing end for Al-Ahmeed, whose Olympic journey started during a chance meeting in 2008 while with a weightlifter friend at a gym session. Al-Ahmeed caught the attention of a coach, who asked him to lift some weights.

After Al-Ahmeed was impressive with his handling of 40 kg weights, the then 15-year-old began training every day as his Olympic dreams became a reality 13 years later when he earned his qualification for Tokyo.

Along the way, Al-Ahmeed became the Gulf champion in 2013, Arab champion in 2015, and secured gold at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

He qualified for Tokyo 2020 by topping the International Weightlifting Federation rankings for Asian athletes in his category.


Saudi U-23 football team ends disappointing Tokyo 2020 with a loss to reigning champions Brazil

Saudi U-23 football team ends disappointing Tokyo 2020 with a loss to reigning champions Brazil
Updated 28 July 2021

Saudi U-23 football team ends disappointing Tokyo 2020 with a loss to reigning champions Brazil

Saudi U-23 football team ends disappointing Tokyo 2020 with a loss to reigning champions Brazil
  • Despite playing well in all three of their matches, the Young Falcons failed to win a single point at the Olympics

Saudi Arabia’s U-23 team bowed out of the Olympic football completion after losing 3-1 to Rio 2016 champions Brazil at Saitama Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

The Saudis put in another commendable performance but defensive mistakes cost them the chance of claiming a single point from the three Group D clashes.

The match was watched by the President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC), Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal.

Having lost its first two group matches against Ivory Coast (2-1) and Germany (3-2), Saudi Arabia came into this fixture with nothing to play for except pride, while Brazil needed to avoid defeat to confirm progress to the quarterfinals.

Coach Saad Al-Shehri sent out a team that seemed focused on defending, but it took Brazil only 14 minutes to take the lead when Matheus Cunha headed past Amin Al-Bukhairi, the Saudi goalkeeper, who only managed to get a hand to the ball in his first start at Tokyo 2020.

On 20 minutes Brazil almost doubled its lead when Antony Santos headed against the bar from a precise Diego Carlos cross, and the pressure was maintained for several minutes as the Saudis struggled to hold the champions off.

The Young Falcons were getting plenty of possession of their own but were not able to threaten Brazil.

They finally scored the equalizer on 27 minutes when Salman Al-Faraj’s curling freekick was headed firmly by Abdulelah Al-Amri past Santos in the Brazil goal.

As against Germany in the second match, the Saudis were not awed by their more celebrated opponents and the goal gave them even more confidence to attack.

With three minutes left of the first half Cunha’s cross was almost turned in from close range by Antony but Al-Bukhairi saved superbly, injuring himself as the Brazilian attacker seemed to unintentionally step on his hand.

The early stages of the second half saw few chances at either end. Brazil should have taken the lead on 65 minutes after Richarlison’s shot was saved by Al-Bukhairi and Cunha struck the rebound against the post when it would have been easier to score.

Ten minutes later Brazil retook the lead after a Dani Alves freekick was cleared by the Saudi defence, but only to Bruno Guimaraes. He headed the ball back across the penalty area for Richarlison to finish with clinical header for this fourth goal of the tournament.

In the last seconds of normal time Richarlison scored again but the goal was ruled out for offside.

With seven minutes added on, there was still time for Richarlison to tap in Reinier’s cross for Brazil’s third in the 93rd minute.

Their win put Brazil at the top of Group D with seven points and they now progress to the quarterfinals, along with Ivory Coast. They managed a 1-1 draw with Germany, who depart Tokyo with Saudi Arabia.


UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation teams up with I-Friends to produce Arabic TV series promoting the sport and its values

UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation teams up with I-Friends to produce Arabic TV series promoting the sport and its values
Updated 28 July 2021

UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation teams up with I-Friends to produce Arabic TV series promoting the sport and its values

UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation teams up with I-Friends to produce Arabic TV series promoting the sport and its values
  • TV series will fuse drama and sport and serve as a vehicle to highlight the popularity and benefit of the sport in the Arab world

ABU DHABI: The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation (UAEJJF) and I-Friends Sport, a subsidiary of the television production firm I-Friends Culture and Media, are partnering to produce an Arabic drama series that will highlight the sport of jiu-jitsu and the benefits its values have on society.

The signing of the partnership by the sport’s governing body in the emirates and the media firm took place at the federation’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi in the presence of UAEJJF General Secretary Fahad Al Shamsi and I-Friends Culture and Media General Manager Amr Mostafa Kamel.

“The media have always been a key vehicle to promote the sport of jiu-jitsu in the community through both sporting events and wider initiatives,” Al-Shamsi, said. “Today’s MoU signing elevates our efforts in embracing technology to raise awareness of the values of our beloved sport. This drama series will offer viewers a new experience and a different view of jiu-jitsu and the role it plays beyond the mat. Our partnership with I-Friends Culture and Media is a result of a common vision and goals in promoting positive values and healthy living.

“We look forward to working with the I-Friends team on this project and engaging jiu-jitsu coaches and players to reflect the true nature of the sport,” he added.

Commenting on the feature format of the show, Kamel said: “Drama plays an important role in promoting values and ideas, and the popularity of Arabic drama series has grown, reaching viewers from all the Arab world. The partnership with the UAEJJF will allow us to use our expertise in the field of drama production and present the sport of jiu-jitsu and its values.”

“Sports drama has always been a great success around the world, whether dealing with the lives of athletes or the history of sports,” he added. “We are confident that our cooperation with the UAEJJF will help project the jiu-jitsu sport forward and engage new audiences.”

Further details on the name of the series, where it will be streamed and how viewers can access the content will be revealed in the coming weeks, and the show will be broadcast primarily in UAE and Egypt, to reflect the growth of the sport among athletes from different countries.


Egyptian handball team beats host Japan for 2nd win at Tokyo 2020

Egyptian handball team beats host Japan for 2nd win at Tokyo 2020
Updated 28 July 2021

Egyptian handball team beats host Japan for 2nd win at Tokyo 2020

Egyptian handball team beats host Japan for 2nd win at Tokyo 2020
  • Sweden will be Egypt’s next Group B opponent before match against Bahrain

IYADH: Egypt on Wednesday beat Olympics host Japan 33-29 in the third preliminary round Group B match of the Games’ handball competition at Yoyogi National Stadium to record the team’s second win of the tournament.

The Egyptians had defeated Portugal 37-31 in their opening match of Tokyo 2020, but on Monday lost 32-27 to Denmark.

The win against Japan will reinvigorate the nation’s hopes of qualifying for next week’s quarterfinals.

In what was a more comfortable victory than the final score suggested, Egypt took an early first half lead and never relinquished it, with the halftime score standing at 18-11.

The Egyptians maintained their superiority throughout the second half with 37-year-old veteran Ahmed El-Ahmar, and Yehia El-Deraa among the team’s standout players.

Japan piled on some late pressure when it looked like the game was already up, but Egypt remained dangerous on the break and kept the hosts at arm’s length. A last-ditch Japanese flurry, that cut the margin of the win to four points by the final buzzer, never looked to have Egypt in trouble.

Egypt’s next match in Group B will be against Sweden on Friday, before the team faces Bahrain on Sunday.