Riyadh confirmed as host of 2023 World Combat Games

Riyadh confirmed as host of 2023 World Combat Games
The Saudi capital Riyadh has been confirmed as host of the 2023 World Combat Games. (WCG)
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Updated 29 May 2021

Riyadh confirmed as host of 2023 World Combat Games

Riyadh confirmed as host of 2023 World Combat Games
  • Event will see world’s best athletes take part in 15 disciplines in Riyadh

Riyadh has been confirmed as the host for the 2023 World Combat Games (WCG), an event featuring 15 combat sports and martial arts that are members of the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF).

The Kingdom “is looking forward to welcoming athletes from all parts of the world,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC).

“Saudi Arabia is very much aligned with the Olympic values, and this event is within the country’s Vision 2030 (plan) to promote a vibrant society with a diverse and thriving economy,” he added.

The Kingdom “has the infrastructure, and will use this event to strengthen the martial arts community in Saudi Arabia, and use these multisport games as one of the first major events toward the Asian Games 2034.”

The WCG aims to promote combat sports and martial arts among international and local communities through the following 15 disciplines: Aikido, boxing, judo, jiu-jitsu, karate, kendo, kickboxing, Thai boxing, sambo, SAFTA, sumo, taekwondo, wrestling, wushu and fencing.

The WCG “is much more than a sporting event powered by GAISF, it is part of an MoU (memorandum of understanding) between GAISF and the IOC (International Olympic Committee),” said GAISF and SportAccord President Raffaele Chiulli.

“The WCG represents sports as much from the non-Olympic as from the Olympic family. The next steps will be to finalize the sport program with the International Sports Federations and obtain final approval from the IOC.”

Stephan Fox, chairman of the GAISF multisport games and a former martial art world champion, believes that Saudi Arabia is an ideal choice for this post-COVID-19 tournament.

“The bid presented by Saudi is robust and inspiring. The vision for this event will bring a festival celebratory atmosphere,” said Fox, who is also GAISF vice president.

“There will be workshops by leading martial art masters, educational conferences and the first World Martial Arts Gala, honoring the legends of martial arts and combat sports.”


Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team

Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team
Updated 20 sec ago

Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team

Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team
  • Williams’ dry wit and charm, indefatigable spirit and resilience served him well on his journey from being a trainee sales rep for Campbell’s soup, to the pinnacle of the high-octane world of F1
  • Frank Williams: ‘It’s been a great journey, one I’d love to do again if I was younger. I wouldn’t try and do anything different except try and avoid the accidents’
PARIS: Frank Williams was a colossus of Formula One, but lurking beneath all the success the British racing legend’s life was touched by tragedy.
Williams, who died on Sunday aged 79, was left a tetraplegic and confined to a wheelchair after a road accident in France in 1986.
The courage, energy and determination with which he dealt with this cruel roll of fate’s dice drew admiration from his family, friends, colleagues and the wider public.
With technical guru Patrick Head he created, from scratch, one of the greatest Formula One teams of all time.
Williams captured seven drivers’ titles, the last claimed by Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in 1997, while the team’s nine constructors’ crowns places Williams second only to mighty Ferrari.
His noted dry wit and charm, indefatigable spirit and resilience served him well on his journey from being a trainee sales rep for Campbell’s soup earning £10 a week, to the pinnacle of the high-octane world of F1.
Francis Owen Garbett Williams was born in South Shields in northeast England on April 16, 1942.
In his early days in motor racing, he had to conduct business from his local red telephone box when cash wasn’t flowing.
He established Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966, competing in F3 and F2, and F1 with a borrowed chassis from 1969.
The death of his first driver Piers Courage, driving for Williams at the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in 1970, was said to have marked him for life.
The first all-Williams built F1 car had an inauspicious start, when with Henri Pescarolo at the wheel, it was destroyed in a crash in 1972.
With funding an ever-present problem and having lost control of his company he left, with Head, to set up the team that is still racing today, in 1977.
Clay Regazzoni drove a Cosworth-powered Williams to its first F1 success, fittingly at the British Grand Prix, in 1979.
Australian Alan Jones won the team’s first drivers’ title the following season. Williams also collected the constructors’ championship that year.
Keke Rosberg took the 1982 title, with five more captured in a golden period between 1987 and 1997, all after Williams’ ill-fated 1986 dash to catch a flight in France that led to the car crash.
“I was late for a plane I didn’t need to be late for, I got the French time mixed up with the English time,” he was to recall.
Williams lost control of the rental car, causing it to leave the highway and drop 2.4 meters into a field. Williams suffered a spinal fracture between the fourth and fifth vertebra after being pressed between his seat and the crushed roof.
Williams was consigned to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
“But life has to go on,” he said. “I was able to continue in the business I was already in, but generally speaking it’s been a handicap in the true sense of the word.”
At the height of their powers, Ayrton Senna, who had won three titles with McLaren, came on board for the 1994 season, only to perish in a horrific high-speed crash at Imola.
Williams had a deep connection with the Brazilian great and was never able fully to come to terms with his death.
“Frank had a love affair with Ayrton,” his daughter Claire, who would later head the team, told The Sun newspaper in 2019.
“He got into his heart, got into his mind, and he always wanted to put him in his race car. Dad’s wish then came true, but it ended in the worst possible way.”
Not for the first time personal anguish failed to diminish Williams’ single-mindedness to succeed, with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve capturing the 1996 and 1997 world championships. He was knighted in 1999 and became Sir Frank.
“It’s been a great journey, one I’d love to do again if I was younger. I wouldn’t try and do anything different except try and avoid the accidents,” Williams told the BBC in 2010.
His death comes after his family ended 43 years of involvement in the team in September 2020, following its sale to Dorilton Capital.
Former Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone told AFP shortly before the sale that the team had lost its raison d’etre when Williams stepped down from the board in 2012.
Both of them were among the co-founders of the Formula One Constructors’ Association in 1974.
“Dear old Frank had to work so hard to make sure the team competed and that happened,” he said.
“Frank was hands-on in the way he managed the team.
“He could get things done.”

Inspirational Reema Juffali named ambassador for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah

Inspirational Reema Juffali named ambassador for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah
Updated 29 November 2021

Inspirational Reema Juffali named ambassador for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah

Inspirational Reema Juffali named ambassador for the first ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah
  • The first Saudi female racing driver took part in this year’s British F3 Championship and will represent the SAGP on her home town circuit

JEDDAH: The organizers of the Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2021 have announced the country’s first female racing driver, Reema Juffali, as a Race Ambassador for this weekend’s inaugural event in the Kingdom.

The 29-year-old, who took part in the British F3 Championship this year, will play a key role representing the event across the course of the race week and Grand Prix weekend, to be held in Jeddah from Dec. 3-5.

“It is an incredible honor for me to be named as an ambassador for Saudi Motorsport for the first ever Formula 1 race weekend in Saudi Arabia,” Juffali said. “Growing up in Jeddah, I walked the very same streets which will form the circuit that the world’s best drivers will now race on. It’s hard to over-state what a momentous occasion this is for the city.”

In her home city, Juffali will take part in a number of milestone events both on and off the track in her capacity as an inspirational role model for the next generation of drivers from within the Kingdom and beyond.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the activities over the race weekend and I hope that my story and journey can provide some inspiration to anyone thinking of following their dream,” she added. “I also hope that the arrival of F1 in Saudi Arabia will inspire more of the next generation to pursue a career in the sport and continue our country’s racing evolution.”

Juffali’s activities will include becoming one of the first people to drive the track in a test lap, taking part in the shakedown of the iconic Williams FW07 historic Formula 1 car and demonstrating her driving credentials alongside fellow professional racers in the Saudi Supercar Club.


Bahrain Raid Xtreme to drive sustainable fuel at 2022 Dakar Rally

Bahrain Raid Xtreme to drive sustainable fuel at 2022 Dakar Rally
Updated 29 November 2021

Bahrain Raid Xtreme to drive sustainable fuel at 2022 Dakar Rally

Bahrain Raid Xtreme to drive sustainable fuel at 2022 Dakar Rally
  • Team to carry out testing in UAE focused on endurance and navigation

DUBAI: Bahrain Raid Xtreme will run a three-car team at the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January, with its cars powered by a new sustainable fuel.

The fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to petrol, as it is made from second-generation biofuel manufactured from agricultural waste and efuels created by carbon capture.

The rally starts on Jan. 1, and over two weeks the cars will race 7,500 km across the deserts of Saudi Arabia, starting in Ha’il and finishing in Jeddah, with a mid-event rest day in Riyadh.

By using the fuel, on what is the most demanding motor race in the world, BRX aims to demonstrate that such fuels can be used as an alternative to petrol and diesel in road transport, and immediately make a contribution to fighting climate change.

The team’s regular drivers, nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and two-time Dakar winner, Nani Roma, will be joined by Orlando Terranova as the team enters three Prodrive Hunter T1+ cars.

Experienced Argentinian driver Terranova competed with the BRX team alongside Loeb and Roma at Baja Aragon in Spain in July in the Hunter T1 car, setting two fastest sector times, with Loeb collecting six more out of a possible 11.

All three will be joined by their current co-drivers, with Fabian Lurquin alongside Loeb, Alex Haro with Roma, and Dani Oliveras with Terranova.

The team has already completed extensive testing of the Hunter T1+ in the Gulf region, and will be carrying out further testing in the UAE over the coming weeks focussed on endurance and navigational exercises, before heading to Saudi Arabia for the rally. Both Loeb and Roma have tested the car, while Terranova will get several days in the Hunter during December.

“I have a really good feeling in the new car,” Loeb said. “We have tested in all the different conditions we expect to see on the Dakar. With the new larger tyres, we were able to maintain our speed through the rough and rocky sections with much less risk of punctures. Fabian and I have several more days’ testing where we will spend a lot of our time focussing on navigation, as this will once again be very important in Saudi.”

Meanwhile, BRX team director, David Richards, said: “Our driver line up this year is one of the strongest with the experience of almost 50 Dakar rallies between the three of them. The new Hunter T1+ has proved fast and reliable in testing and the driver/co-driver partnerships are working well, which is so important in the Saudi desert where accurate navigation is so critical.”

T1+ cars run on larger tyres, with increased suspension travel and a wider track. The car now benefits from 37” tyres on 17” rims, with suspension travel increased from 280 mm to 350 mm and the body width increased from 2 m to 2.3 m to accommodate this.

These changes have necessitated a radical redesign of the Hunter, and Prodrive has used this as an opportunity to make further improvements, including a larger windscreen for improved visibility and a refinement of a number of systems throughout the car.


2021 FIFA Arab Cup offers Saudi youngsters the chance to stake their claim for next year’s World Cup

2021 FIFA Arab Cup offers Saudi youngsters the chance to stake their claim for next year’s World Cup
Updated 29 November 2021

2021 FIFA Arab Cup offers Saudi youngsters the chance to stake their claim for next year’s World Cup

2021 FIFA Arab Cup offers Saudi youngsters the chance to stake their claim for next year’s World Cup
  • Laurent Bonadei will oversee a youthful squad as Green Falcons take on Jordan, Palestine and Morocco with Herve Renard observing from the stands

It has been a busy year for Saudi Arabian football, but the end is in sight as the national team kicks off the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup against Jordan on Wednesday.

A young squad — apart from two 24-year-old goalkeepers, none of the players were born before 1999 — arrived in Doha on Sunday and, for those who shine in Qatar, there could be a return in 2022 as the full-strength team edges toward clinching qualification for the World Cup.

When these Green Falcons take on Jordan on Wednesday and then subsequent games against Palestine three days later and Morocco’s “A” team (one shorn of European-based stars), the likes of Salman Al-Faraj and Salem Al-Dawsari won’t be there. Even head coach Herve Renard will be taking a back seat, as the senior boss has left the in-game duties to Laurent Bonadei. His fellow Frenchman has plenty of experience and did some good things when in charge of Paris Saint-Germain’s Under-17 and Under-19 teams.

“We will participate in the Arab Cup with young players born in 1999 and after and my assistant Laurent Bonadei will coach the team,” Renard said last week.

The team that touched down in Qatar bears some resemblance to the Under-23 side that played at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer and then qualified for the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup in October and November. So the move makes sense. 

“I am in constant contact with (Under-23 head coach) Saad Al-Shehri, so a large percentage of the players from the Olympic team were selected,” said Renard. “The selection was made by the technical staff of the first team and came on the basis that these players will be the pillar of the first team in the future.”

Despite his different duties, Renard will still be busy. While Bonadei will be in charge of the team during games, the big boss will take training and will be observing the matches from up in the stands. Renard sees it as a great opportunity to oversee from above without having to get involved with the minute-by-minute action of a tournament game. 

Bonadei says he is ready. “I thank the Saudi Football Association and Mr. Renard for their confidence in me to lead the Green Falcons at the Arab Cup,” he said. “We will give everything we have to reach our goal and we are looking forward to the challenge and I am looking forward to the opportunity.”

There are opportunities for others. The coming weeks — there could be as many as six games if Saudi Arabia make it to the last four (there is even a third-place playoff) — offer a great chance for some players to really show the watching Renard what they can do. 

The two main strikers, Abdullah Al-Hamdan and Firas Al-Buraikan, will be hoping to make a splash in Qatar. Both have appeared for the senior team without being able to make a starting spot their own. Al-Hamdan has fallen out of favor in recent months, partly because he has been getting few minutes for Al-Hilal. 

Al-Buraikan was in a similar situation with Al-Nassr but a move to Al-Fateh has helped. Already this season, which is not even at the halfway point, the 21-year-old has spent more minutes on the pitch than he did in total over the previous four years with Al-Nassr. His sharpness in the domestic league has led to better performances for the Under-23 team and the senior side, with his goal in October giving Saudi Arabia a famous 1-0 win over Japan in World Cup qualification. Al-Buraikan now has the chance to enjoy a sustained run in the team and be the main man in attack. It will be fascinating to see how he deals with the pressure. The challenge for Al-Hamdan is to remind the coach what he can do and spend some extended time with the team in training.

Turki Al-Ammar in midfield is another who has a great chance to move from the fringes of the national team squad to a more central position. His form for Al-Shabab has been one of the reasons why the club have climbed from the lower reaches of the Saudi Professional League to second place. It would also be great for the league and Saudi Arabian football in general if Damac midfielder Bader Munshi were to get a chance. It has to be healthy if players from the smaller teams who are playing well get a chance with the national team.

Lifting the Arab Cup would be a fitting end to a great year for Saudi Arabian football, but just as valuable is the chance to play competitive games in a tournament setting. Those players that seize the opportunity may be returning to Qatar next November for the really big one.


Formula 1 teams arrive in Jeddah as the final countdown begins for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Formula 1 teams arrive in Jeddah as the final countdown begins for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Updated 29 November 2021

Formula 1 teams arrive in Jeddah as the final countdown begins for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Formula 1 teams arrive in Jeddah as the final countdown begins for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

JEDDAH: The final countdown for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix began in earnest as Formula One teams arrived to a colorful welcome at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport on Nov. 28.

Teams were greeted by Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation “meet and greet” team, and were assisted with arrival formalities in a specially constructed lounge reception area.

The Formula One event — the Kingdom’s biggest global sporting showcase — will be staged at the specially built Jeddah Corniche Circuit from Dec. 3-5.

More F1 drivers are due to arrive in the coming days as the grand prix countdown continues. The Alpine F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari are among teams that have already begun preparations in Jeddah.

Airport lounges have been decorated with Formula 1 flags and logos, models of F1 racing cars, and images of competing teams and drivers.

Jeddah Municipality has also decorated the King Road and the Corniche with Formula 1 flags and slogans, including the area surrounding the circuit and the waterfront.