First woman weightlifter to represent Lebanon at the Olympics: ‘My dream has become a reality’

First woman weightlifter to represent Lebanon at the Olympics: ‘My dream has become a reality’
First female weightlifter, Mahassen Hala Fattouh, to ever represent Lebanon in 2021 Olympic Games in Japan in July, says being the first woman to represent Lebanon is something she’s proud of. (Supplied/Instagram)
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Updated 13 June 2021

First woman weightlifter to represent Lebanon at the Olympics: ‘My dream has become a reality’

First woman weightlifter to represent Lebanon at the Olympics: ‘My dream has become a reality’
  • ‘Qualifying for the Games is something that happens only once in a lifetime,’ Mahassen Hala Fattouh tells Arab News
  • The 31-year-old is gearing up to represent Lebanon in the 76kg category at the Games

BEIRUT: The first female weightlifter to represent Lebanon at the Olympics says she is “grateful, relieved and overwhelmed” at being selected for the 2021 Games starting in Japan in late July.
“The feeling is indescribable,” Mahassen Hala Fattouh told Arab News.
“Qualifying for the Olympics is something that only happens once.”
The 31-year-old is gearing up to represent Lebanon in the 64kg-76kg category at the Games.
Women athletes have represented Lebanon in other sports in regional, pan-Arab and continental competitions, and at the Olympics — but Fattouh is the country’s first female weightlifter to compete at the Games.
The weightlifter has a long list of regional and international competitions to her name, but was still surprised by the response to her Olympic selection, describing the numerous messages of congratulation on her social media accounts as “more than I could have ever anticipated.”
Fattouh represented Lebanon at the 2018 Mediterranean Games, and also competed in the 2018 and 2019 IWF world championships in the women’s 64 kg clean and jerk category.
She described her qualification for the Olympics as “historic,” and “something that happens only once in a lifetime.”
“I will always be the first woman to represent Lebanon in weightlifting — that is something I am so proud of. I hope to share this feeling with every Lebanese woman, girl and young person looking to make their dream a reality,” she said.
The Lebanese star said that her sporting journey “has been a long one, but having the right people at my side meant it wasn’t nearly as difficult as it could have been. That’s the most important thing for aspiring athletes.”
Lebanon’s caretaker sports minister, Vartine Ohanian, congratulated Fattouh on her selection “to represent her country well and raise its flag in a time of great joy.”
Fattouh is based in the US, where she lives with her husband, a US national.
She is ranked first in Asia and 12th in the world — rankings that promise a special performance at the Tokyo Olympics.
On her Facebook page, Fattouh posted that it is now official that in 43 days she will be the first female weightlifter in Lebanon’s history to compete at the Olympic Games.
“I am at a loss for words, but am filled with gratitude for so many people who have supported me and played a role in getting to this moment,” she said, thanking all her supporters.
She posted a photo and a similar message to her 2,000-plus Instagram followers.
Fattouh told Arab News that she is “simply aiming to have a good competition and break my personal records.”
She advised other aspiring female athletes to “surround yourself with people who believe in you as much as you do, and never stop working toward your goals. My biggest hope is that we have a full team of women for future competition.”


US men’s basketball team fall to France in first Olympics loss since 2004

US men’s basketball team fall to France in first Olympics loss since 2004
Updated 26 July 2021

US men’s basketball team fall to France in first Olympics loss since 2004

US men’s basketball team fall to France in first Olympics loss since 2004
  • The USA face Iran in their next game on Wednesday when France take on the Czech Republic

SAITAMA, Japan: The US men’s basketball team suffered a shock 83-76 defeat at the hands of France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 and for just the sixth time in the history of the tournament.
The French had upset the US men when they last met in the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarter-finals and they had their number again on the first day of group play at the Saitama Super Arena, powered by a game-high 28 points from Evan Fournier.
“It felt good, it felt good,” Fournier told Reuters.
Moustapha Fall had high praise for his teammate.
“He is the offensive leader for us, always aggressive, always trying to score,” Fall said of Fournier. “We knew he was going to be our leader offensively and he assumed this role, so he is good for us.”
The Americans got out to a good start in the first half, leading 45-37 at the break on the back of their defensive energy, but were outscored 25-11 in a disastrous third-quarter with France taking the lead.
Team USA clawed back to briefly regain the lead in the fourth quarter, but the French wouldn’t go away and took their first ever Olympic win versus the United States.

Guerschon Yabusele of France shoots againnst Edrice Adebayo of the US. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Star US player Kevin Durant was saddled with foul trouble early and found it hard to get into a rhythm. He fouled out near the end of the game.
The United States is always the team to beat at basketball — they now have a 138-6 record and have won gold 15 times since joining the Olympic program in 1936 — boasting more depth than any other country with their star-studded NBA line-ups.
But their recent form suggested reaching the top of the podium would not be as easy as in the past, after they dropped two straight exhibition games this month including a surprise loss to world 22nd-ranked Nigeria.
Preparations were also disrupted by the absence of players due to this year’s late NBA playoffs and late replacements due to COVID-19 protocols and injury.
Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton were finally able to join the team after the last game of the NBA finals on July 20. Holiday scored a team-high 18 points on Sunday despite having flown into Japan the day before.
US head coach Gregg Popovich said his team had to be more consistent, pointing to several leads they had let slip away.
“We gave all of those up. Because of a lack of consistent defense, too many errors on offense, possessions where we didn’t move and took ill-advised shots. So you understand it, look at it, put in the work and try to get better.”
In other Group A action on Sunday, the Czech Republic held on to beat Iran 84-78 after the Iranians had cut a 22-point deficit down to four points with less than a minute to go.
In Group B, Australia overcame a 22-turnover performance to top Nigeria 84-67, while Italy fought to a 92-82 win against Germany that saw the Italians pull away late after tightening up their defense.
In their next games on Wednesday, the United States will take on Iran and France will meet the Czechs, while Australia will face Italy and Germany will take on Nigeria. 


Tickets for F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix now on sale

Tickets for the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are now on sale. (Supplied)
Tickets for the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are now on sale. (Supplied)
Updated 25 July 2021

Tickets for F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix now on sale

Tickets for the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are now on sale. (Supplied)
  • Initially, 40 percent of the tickets will be released
  • All ticket holders will also gain access to the festivals and live concerts

LONDON: Tickets for the inaugural Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix are now on sale now for fans in the Kingdom and fans living abroad, it was announced on Sunday.

The first ever F1 race taking place in Saudi Arabia will be run around the Jeddah Circuit on the weekend of December 3 to 5.

Initially, 40 percent of the tickets will be released, with hopes of increasing to full capacity over time, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sports, announced the opening of ticket sales and thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his continued support for bringing major sporting events to the Kingdom.

“We will prove to the whole world — God willing and with ambitious leadership — that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become an exceptional home to the most prestigious racing series in the world, and we look forward to presenting an unforgettable race for all motorsport lovers and enthusiasts, whether those watching at the track or on TV screens,” he said.

“Today we mark a new step on our way to hosting the first Formula 1 race in the Kingdom, as we enter the most exciting stages of hosting the event,” Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, said.

“We look forward to experiencing a great race in the latest, fastest and longest street circuit in Formula 1, in addition to various types of entertainment over three days outside the circuit,” he added.

F1 fans will be able to choose from three types of ticket: Paddock Club, Premium Hospitality and Grandstand, with package prices starting at SR1,800 ($480).

Grandstand tickets will allow fans to see the start and finish line as well as the hyper-fast final section of the track, while Premium Hospitality tickets give you a fuller racing experience with the best views of the racing action.

Fans can also visit the F1 Paddock Club to enjoy the race weekend in style in the Pit and Team Building overlooking the Red Sea coastline. 

All ticket holders will also gain access to the festivals and live concerts taking place across the circuit and F1 Fanzone.


UAE shooter Saif Bin Futais aiming to improve on Olympic best at Tokyo 

UAE shooter Saif Bin Futais aiming to improve on Olympic best at Tokyo 
Updated 25 July 2021

UAE shooter Saif Bin Futais aiming to improve on Olympic best at Tokyo 

UAE shooter Saif Bin Futais aiming to improve on Olympic best at Tokyo 
  • The 47-year-old Emirati finished 29th in the Men’s Skeet at Rio 2016

TOKYO: Emirati shooter Saif Bin Futais racked up 70 points in the three rounds of Tokyo 2020’s Skeet Men’s qualification on the first day of the event, held at Asaka Shooting Range in the Japanese capital.

It was performance equalled by 30 other participants, while French shooter Eric Delaunay and US shooter Hancock Finkett tied for first place with 75 points. Tammaro Cassandro of Italy and Jacub Tomecek of the Czech Republic followed, scoring 74 points each.

Each shooter was involved in three rounds of 25 attempts.

Bin Futais, 47, is taking part in his second Olympic games having finished in 29th place in the Skeet Men’s competition at Rio 2016.

Among the other Arab shooters taking part in the event are Saudi Arabian Saeed Al-Mutairi who clocked up 71 points, and Abdullah Al-Rashidi of Kuwait, who finished the day tied in sixth place.

The competition resumes on Monday morning, from 4:00 a.m. in Riyadh time, with a further two rounds for each of the competitors.


Pandemic-hit IPL to resume on Sept. 19 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah

Under the new schedule, 13 IPL matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi. (Twitter: @IPL/File Photo)
Under the new schedule, 13 IPL matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi. (Twitter: @IPL/File Photo)
Updated 25 July 2021

Pandemic-hit IPL to resume on Sept. 19 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah

Under the new schedule, 13 IPL matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi. (Twitter: @IPL/File Photo)
  • The tournament was only half finished when it was halted in India on May 4 due to COVID-19

NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League, the world's richest cricket tournament, will resume in the UAE on September 19, more than four months after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said Sunday.

“A total number of 31 matches will be played in the duration of 27 days,” said a statement by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“The 14th season, which was postponed in May this year in the wake of the pandemic, will resume on 19th September in Dubai with a blockbuster clash between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.”

The tournament was only half finished when it was halted in India on May 4 after a number of players and team officials caught coronavirus despite being in bio-secure bubbles.

Under the new schedule, 13 matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah and eight in Abu Dhabi.

The final will be staged in Dubai on October 15, just two days before the rescheduled Twenty20 World Cup gets underway, also in the Gulf.

In the new-look IPL, there will be seven double headers.

The final game of the league stage will be played between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals on October 8.

The first qualifier will be played in Dubai on October 10 with the eliminator qualifier 2 to be played in Sharjah on October 11 and 13.

The World T20 was originally meant to take place in Australia at the end of 2020 but it was called off as the pandemic swept across the globe causing widescale lockdowns.

It was then switched to India before it was rescheduled again to be staged in Oman and the United Arab Emirates from October 17 to November 14.

The BCCI remains the ‘host’ of the World T20 but the competition will now be held across four venues — the Dubai International Stadium, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah Stadium, and the Oman Cricket Academy Ground.


Syrian athlete brothers separated by war hug at Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

Alaa Maso from the Refugee Olympic Team — who will be competing in the men’s swimming — was photographed embracing his brother Mohamed Maso, who is competing in the triathlon. (Screenshot)
Alaa Maso from the Refugee Olympic Team — who will be competing in the men’s swimming — was photographed embracing his brother Mohamed Maso, who is competing in the triathlon. (Screenshot)
Updated 25 July 2021

Syrian athlete brothers separated by war hug at Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

Alaa Maso from the Refugee Olympic Team — who will be competing in the men’s swimming — was photographed embracing his brother Mohamed Maso, who is competing in the triathlon. (Screenshot)
  • Both brothers, originally from the city of Aleppo in Syria, now live in Germany

DUBAI: A picture of two Syrian brothers — one representing the Olympic refugee team, the other the Syrian team — hugging on the sidelines of the Tokyo Games has been circulating on social media.

Many praised the image, with one Twitter user saying: “The most beautiful image from the #OpeningCeremony are the two #Syrian brothers, who were reunited.” Others called it “surreal.”

Alaa Maso from the Refugee Olympic Team — who will be competing in the men’s swimming — was photographed embracing his brother Mohamed Maso, who is competing in the triathlon.

Both brothers, originally from the city of Aleppo in Syria, now live in Germany.

Alaa left Syria in 2015 and resettled in Germany after his training facilities were damaged during fighting, according to his profile on the International Olympic Committee website. 

His brother Mohamed also fled the war in Syria for Europe in 2015. During his journey to Europe, “his Syrian triathlon suit and running shoes” were in his backpack, his profile read.

Alaa will also be competing alongside another Syrian refugee swimmer, Yusra Mardini.

About half a million people have been killed in Syria and millions more forced to flee their homes since anti-government protests in 2011 led to a deadly war.