Top international swimmers announced for FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Top international swimmers announced for FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
Six-time Olympic medalist Kyle Chalmers will take part in the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi next month. (Getty Images)
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Updated 29 November 2021

Top international swimmers announced for FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Top international swimmers announced for FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
  • Host of Olympic medalists will take part in the event at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island in December
  • Among those heading to Abu Dhabi will be six-time Olympic medalist and world champion Kyle Chalmers from Australia and Tokyo 2020 double gold medalist Tom Dean from the UK

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Sports Council has confirmed that a number of top international swimmers will participate in the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Etihad Arena from Dec. 16 to 21.

Organizers on Monday revealed that some of the best swimmers from North America, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific are set to compete across a range of distances next month.

Among those heading to Abu Dhabi will be six-time Olympic medalist and world champion Kyle Chalmers from Australia; Tokyo 2020 double gold medalist Tom Dean from the UK; multiple world champion Daiya Seto from Japan; South Africa’s Matthew Sates, the recent overall winner of the Swimming World Cup 2021; and Olympic breakout star Lydia Jacoby from the US.

In an impressive year so far, Chalmers set the world record in the men’s 100m freestyle (25m) at the Swimming World Cup in Russia last month and is aiming to break further records in the UAE.

“2021 has been an incredible year,” Chalmers said. “I earned my first ever world record at the World Cup in Kazan and took home silver at the Olympic Games. What better way to end the year than at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi? It’s been a long journey back since my shoulder surgery at the start of the year, but the challenges, sacrifices and bridges I have had to climb to get to this point in my career make it all the more special.”

Reigning 200m freestyle Olympic champion Dean and multiple world junior record holder Sates will be the men to beat in the medium-distance freestyle events. The latter will be looking to continue his record-breaking run in Abu Dhabi, following his stellar performances in the 2021 Junior World Cup, where he set world records in the 200m freestyle and individual medley.

Returning to the UAE following his appearance in the 2016 FINA Swimming World Cup in Dubai is Japan’s elite star Seto. Specializing in butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle events, Seto’s career highlights include gold medal triumphs in the 400m individual medley at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 world championships (25m). Seto was the first Asian swimmer to become world champion in an individual medley event.

Seventeen-year-old Jacoby will be one of the top names in the American team following her breakout performance in Tokyo this year, where she stunned the world by winning gold in the 100m breaststroke event. Her swift rise through the elite swimming ranks started at the US winter nationals in 2018, when she qualified for the US Olympic trials at the tender age of 14.

“Medaling at this summer’s Olympics was a dream come true, and I’ll definitely be racing for more in the upcoming championships in Abu Dhabi,” Jacoby said. “I can’t wait to finish off this incredible year strong with some of the world’s strongest athletes supporting me and racing alongside me.”

Representing Canada is 21-year-old Margaret Mac Neil, the current Olympic and world champion and continental record holder in the women’s 100m butterfly event.

European sporting talent includes 24-year-old Florian Wellbrock from Germany, whose outstanding performance in the 10km open water event at the Tokyo Olympic Games won him gold. Wellbrock became the first swimmer to win both the 1,500m freestyle and the 10km open water events in the same world championships in 2019. He will compete in both the short course swimming in the Etihad Arena and the open water swimming in Yas Bay.

Italian stars Gregorio Paltrinieri — the current 1,500m freestyle (25m) world record holder — and long-distance event specialist Simona Quadarella have also been confirmed for this year’s competition. Paltrinieri will return to the UAE, following his appearance at the Swimming World Cup in Dubai in 2013, with hopes of breaking his own world record.

Quadarella will aim to add to her 10-medal haul, which includes bronze in the 800m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics and gold in the 1,500m freestyle and silver in the 800m freestyle at the 2019 world championships.

More than 1,000 athletes will compete for 44 world championship titles across six days in Abu Dhabi, with a total prize pool of $2.8 million up for grabs.


Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity
Updated 10 sec ago

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity

Formula E and CBX raise $478,000 for Saudi charity
  • Money raised ahead of season eight opener, with round one of the double-header getting underway in Diriyah

RIYADH: Hosts and guests of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and Saudi Arabia came together at the Diriyah E-Prix gala dinner on Thursday to raise funds for the Charitable Society of Autism Families.

The fund-raising event, organized by official promoter CBX, raised $478,000 for a cause that Formula E has supported since 2019.

The event, held at the Cultural Palace, kicked off Formula E’s season eight opener, with round one of the double-header getting underway in Diriyah.

“I can’t express my thanks enough to those that supported the gala dinner and SAF,” Prince Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Farhan Al-Saud, SAF chairman, said.

“The Formula E family has gone above and beyond, and the funds will allow us to support all those involved in autism, from professionals who deliver care to the children and families navigating their way through the disorder. Our vision is to develop an integrated and well-developed platform for all autistic individuals in the Kingdom.”

Eight auction lots up for grabs included a Chelsea shirt signed by special guest Didier Drogba, who personally handed the garment over to the highest bidder who paid $92,500.

Other prizes included a Tag Heuer Carrera Heuer 02 Tourbillon, Extreme E Explorers Lounge passes for its Uruguay X Prix, a Roland Iten X Rebellion Belt Buckle, a Mouawad necklace, a VIP experience in AlUla, two paintings by Fahad Al-Naymah, plus a Salayel Arabian stud horse.

Carlo Boutagy, CBX founder, said: “I’m glad we raised significant funds for such a worthy cause. My thanks to all those who attended, donated auction items, and bid for incredible pieces and experiences.”

He added: “I would also like to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Arabian Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, and Formula E for bringing this race to the Kingdom for a fourth consecutive year, and for also supporting our gala dinner. The money raised will make the world of difference to many families in Saudi Arabia.”

The bidding battle heated up with the highest price being offered for the Salayel Arabian stud horse, all contributing to $478,000 being raised, which will support the 5,000 families with autism spectrum disorder children across the Kingdom.

Alejandro Agag, founder and chairman of Formula E, added: “It is a pleasure to be in the Kingdom for the opening rounds of season eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with the support of the host city and CBX. The Charitable Society of Autism Families is a worthy cause and last night we were able to support their important work. At Formula E we race to create better futures. We are committed to building shared values among our communities and driving change together.”

Meanwhile, Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and chairman of the Saudi Motorsport Co., said: “The night truly reflected our mission to increase opportunities to expand the role of motorsport in terms of inclusion to reach all segments of the population in Saudi Arabia. We are committed through the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision and the support of our leaders to improve the lives of all our citizens and build a better future for our nation’s youth.”

SAF has a longstanding relationship with CBX and the Diriyah E-Prix having received a donation of $245,000 when the partnership with Formula E was conceived. The aid was channelled into projects to train families, enrol autistic children in sports programs and support the rehabilitation of individuals with autism.

Since its inception in 2009, the charity has invested more than $16.7 million in projects to fulfil its mission to improve autism care and research in Saudi Arabia by supporting and coordinating stakeholders through a research-based approach and emphasis on collaboration.


Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
Updated 49 min 49 sec ago

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle

Endurance ace Carmine Villani a high achiever in and out of the saddle
  • World No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 at AlUla

Endurance horse racing champion Carmine Villani has led a rich and colorful life that has seen him shine in business and sport.

Today, the world No.1 will represent Great Britain at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Endurance Cup 2022 (Fursan Cup) at AlUla.

Villani was a talented athlete as a young man — first in Italy and then the US — excelling as a middle-distance runner. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, he went on to become heavily involved in sports car racing.

However, an affinity with horses has always been in his blood. When he was young, Villani was taught to ride by his grandfather. In Carmine’s words, he “learned the tricks and bareback riding from him.”

Villani’s equine passion was rekindled during his time in Texas, where he rode quarter-horses and thoroughbreds.

He began to take part in endurance events in his early 40s and climbed to the summit of the FEI World Rankings in 2020.

There are plenty of reasons the sport has him hooked.

“It teaches discipline, morals and patience, and it takes a mental effort and sacrifice,” said Villani, who is now based in England and represents Endurance GB.

“To participate in an endurance race is an achievement itself. It could be very technical. Strategy is also a very important aspect to know how to win. It is a beautiful sport.”

He added: “Endurance is a mental and physical state. Like military — sacrifice and commitment. You should never give up. You need to be fit and have a fit horse. It is a very good way to maintain your health also.”

Villani, who is also a certified public accountant and public notary, said that a strong understanding and bond between human and horse is essential for success.

Competition tests stamina, skill and intellect, so it is imperative for him that there is an empathy at the heart of the alliance. Judgment of pace and the underlying track, as well as the horse’s moment-by-moment condition, are all integral in the pursuit of success in the sport.

“You have to be the brain of the horse,” said Villani.


Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
Updated 29 January 2022

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse

Making Miracles qualifies for Saudi Cup after Custodian Cup win at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse
  • Six hopefuls gain automatic entry to the world’s most valuable race meeting on Feb. 25-26

Making Miracles, the 2019 Chester Cup winner, will join the likes of Mishriff and Sealiway in the $20 million Saudi Cup after storming to victory under Alexis Moreno in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup (domestic Group 1) at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse on Thursday, the first of two days of qualifying races at the Riyadh venue.

The seven-year-old, formerly with Mark Johnston, scored his fifth win from eight starts in Saudi Arabia and will now gain an automatic spot in the world’s most valuable horse race.

Four further qualifying events took place at King Abdul Aziz Racecourse, with Portuguese rider Ricardo Sousa Ferreira landing three of the events: The 1351 Turf Sprint Qualifier on Cold Front, Jahez Neom Turf Cup Qualifier aboard Flying Visit and the Riyadh Dirt Sprint Qualifier sponsored by Saudia, with Rock Sound.

The day’s other contest guaranteeing a spot on the Saudi Cup race day was the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby Qualifier, won by Almuthanna, partnered by veteran rider Wiggy Ramos.

There was also a qualifying spot available for the $2 million Obaiya Arabian Classic (Arabian Group 2) on Thursday for the winner of the Lexus Diriyah Cup, which was claimed by Prince Amer.

The only remaining automatic entry races come at Gulfstream on Saturday, where the winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf will gain entry to the Group 3 Neom Turf Cup and the Pegasus World Cup (Dirt) will get a spot in the Saudi Cup.

Aside from the qualifying races, there was one other domestic Group 1 on Thursday’s card, which saw Silvestre de Sousa ride Almobeer to victory. The Brazilian had inherited the ride from Frankie Dettori, after the 51-year-old was forced to change his arrangements following a positive COVID-19 test.


Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
Updated 29 January 2022

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad

Newcastle conclude Jeddah training camp with victory over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad
  • The Magpies ran out 2-1 victors in a shortened, 70-minute friendly that both teams finished with only 10 men after a double red card
  • United manager Eddie Howe said: ‘It was a good work out. The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too’

JEDDAH: Ten-man Newcastle United ran out 2-1 winners over Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad on Friday in a friendly match in Jeddah that was marred by two red cards.

The Magpies’ Ciaran Clark and Al-Ittihad’s Abderazak Hamdallah were given their marching orders in the second-half for an altercation in which the home player appeared to kick out at the Ireland international, who retaliated.

There were no lingering hard feelings, however, and the pair were pictured swapping shirts and pleasantries after the game at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium, which marked the conclusion of United’s six-day training camp in the Kingdom.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser netted for the Magpies, one in each half, bookending an equalizer just before the break by Hamdallah.

“It was a good work out,” said Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. “The standard of the game was good. The standard of the opposition was good, too.

“It was a good test for us and I think when you play a game like this, that’s what you want. We were set certain challenges when the game went to 10 players each and we’re pleased we came through.”

In a game that the sides had agreed to shorten to 70 minutes, United took the lead after only nine minutes when a weaving, jinking run from Frenchman Saint-Maximin ended with the forward smashing home from inside the area.

The goal was canceled out on 33 minutes when Morocco international Hamdallah beat the offside trap before finishing expertly to put the ball past reserve keeper Karl Darlow, who was filling in for regular No.1 Martin Dubravka.

After the double red, Ryan Fraser finished a slick team move to clinch it for the Magpies with 13 minutes to go.

“Two very special goals,” said Howe. “Allan’s was typical Allan: Very special, trademark individual brilliance. Ryan’s goal was great to see, a good team goal and good finish."

Howe was less impressed by the handling of the red cards incident.

“I was surprised it was a red in a game like this,” he said. “The referee could have probably dealt with it differently — but by the book, it probably was the right decision.”

The Magpies fly home to England on Saturday. Their next Premier League game is on Tuesday, Feb. 8, when they will take on managerless Everton at St. James’ Park.


Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 28 January 2022

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle edging closer to signing Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes

Lyon's Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is close to signing for Newcastle United, according to reports. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Despite frustrations in efforts to get deals over the line, several other transfers, including Man United’s Jesse Lingard, could be completed in the coming days
  • Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target

JEDDAH: Eddie Howe has confirmed that Newcastle United are edging closer to signing a target believed to be Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes — and added that the transfer-hungry Magpies are not finished with the transfer window yet.
Speaking from the club’s Saudi base, the head coach did not mention the 24-year-old midfielder by name, but assured fans that United are on the verge of their third capture of winter trading.
It is widely expected Guimaraes will sign a long-term contract with English club this weekend, after Newcastle agreed a fee, said to be in the region of $44million, with French Ligue 1 side Lyon on Wednesday.
Howe saw his players beat Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad 2-1 in Jeddah on Friday evening. Goals from Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser in either half won it for the Magpies, who were reduced to 10-men when Ciaran Clark saw red for an altercation with home goalscorer Abderrazak Hamdallah.
Before the match, Howe confirmed that good news about transfers is just around the corner.
“I can say nothing about individual players but we are hopeful we are close to completing a transfer for a player,” he said. “We will try and give you that update when we have it. Fingers crossed, we are close to getting one over the line.”
That player is understood to be Guimaraes. When asked if that is the case, Howe responded: “You can guess; there will be no confirmation from me. It would be foolish of me to do so. We are hopeful. We are closer to getting one more in to add to the two quality additions we have brought in so far.
“From my perspective, I don’t think that will be the end of our interest in bringing new players in. If that turns into reality, who knows? Things can change very late in this window, as everybody knows. It can be quite unpredictable, with things happening in the last few days that you maybe didn’t expect.”
In terms of other specific Newcastle targets during the remainder of the transfer window, which closes on Monday night, a center forward remains high on the agenda, as does a central defender.
Brighton’s Dan Burn is of interest, and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has also emerged as a potential target. Arab News understands Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard is also pushing hard for a deal to be brokered with the Magpies that would allow him to see out the final months of his Old Trafford contract on Tyneside.
“We are open. We are working hard to improve the squad and give this squad the best possible chance of staying in the league,” said Howe. “That was our aim at the beginning of the window and it remains the same now.”
United have had their share of frustrations during this transfer window, with moves for Sven Botman and Diego Carlos aborted late on due to the unwillingness of Lille and Sevilla, respectively, to sell.
Howe admits things have often proved not to be straightforward but did not lay any blame at the doorstep of the Magpies’ transfer committee.
“We are in a lot better place if we can get this deal done,” he said. “The frustration I felt was only at the window, not anyone connected with the club. I see what everyone is doing behind the scenes, what everybody wants.
“This window has been difficult, regardless of our situation. It has been tough to actually get clear decisions — not from our side, from others — on what we can and can’t do and what they want to do. The work has been immense and we hope it bears fruit at the end of the window.”