Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi takes gold at 2021 Asian Karate Championship

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi takes gold at 2021 Asian Karate Championship
Tarek Hamdi on his way to winning gold at the 2021 Asian Karate Championship in Kazakhstan. (Saudi Karate Federation)
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Updated 22 December 2021

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi takes gold at 2021 Asian Karate Championship

Saudi Olympic hero Tarek Hamdi takes gold at 2021 Asian Karate Championship
  • The 23-year-old won the Men’s Kumite +84kg category on a day that saw Saudi Arabia claim three silvers
  • The three silver medals were claimed by Yasser Al-Bargi in the -55kg, Fahad Al-Khathami in the -67kg and Sultan Al-Zahrani in the -75kg

Saudi Arabia’s Olympic silver medalist Tarek Hamdi revived memories of his Tokyo 2020 heroics by winning a gold medal at the Asian Karate Championship in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old won his medal in the Men’s Kumite +84kg category. Saudi athletes also claimed three silver medals on the last day of the 17th edition of the championship for under-21s and adults — and 19th edition for juniors —  which took place in Almaty.

Hamdi, who came agonizingly close to winning gold in the +74kg category against Sajag Ganzjadeh of Iran at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, this time completed the job by defeating another Iranian opponent — Saleh Abazari — 4-0 in the final. 

The three silver medals were claimed by Yasser Al-Bargi in the -55kg, Fahad Al-Khathami in the -67kg and Sultan Al-Zahrani in the -75kg.

Earlier in the week at the in the junior categories, Sultan Al-Qahtani led the way for Saudi with gold in the Kumite +55kg competition.

The other triumphant young Saudis were Abdul Rahman Hajjrassi, who won a bronze in the Kumite -76kg; Omar Al-Bakhit, who won bronze in the Kumite +76kg; and Ali Makri, who completed the team’s trio of bronze medals in the Kumite competitions in the -61kg category.


Champions League final ball to be auctioned for UN refugee body

Champions League final ball to be auctioned for UN refugee body
Updated 24 May 2022

Champions League final ball to be auctioned for UN refugee body

Champions League final ball to be auctioned for UN refugee body
  • The white and silver panelled ball will be inscribed with the word 'peace' in English and Cyrillic script

DUBAI: The ball used in Saturday’s Champions League soccer final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will be auctioned after the game with the proceeds going to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), ball maker adidas said on Tuesday.
The German sportswear company said the white and silver panelled ball will be inscribed with the word ‘peace’ in English and Cyrillic script and would not be on sale to the public.
Saturday’s final is taking place at the Stade de France in Paris after being moved earlier this year from original host city St. Petersburg due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’.


Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow
Updated 24 May 2022

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow

Medvedev eases through at French Open as Rune strikes teen blow
  • Medvedev routed Argentina's 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve
  • "I love Roland Garros, especially since last year," said Medvedev

PARIS: World number two Daniil Medvedev eased into the French Open second round on Tuesday as Denmark’s Holger Rune reminded Roland Garros that Carlos Alcaraz is not the only teenager dreaming of the title.
Medvedev, who came into Paris with just one match on clay this year following hernia surgery, routed Argentina’s 103rd-ranked Facundo Bagnis 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on the back of 35 winners and eight breaks of serve.
“I love Roland Garros, especially since last year,” said Medvedev, who had lost in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals in 2021. “I hope this year I can go further.”
Rune, 19 and just a week older than the highly-rated Alcaraz, marked his main draw debut with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) dismissal of 14th-seeded Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Rune, the boys champion in 2019 and a former world junior number one, entered Paris at a career-high 40 having started 2021 outside of the top 400.
In the current clay season, he won his first title in Munich, beating world number three Alexander Zverev on the way.
Shapovalov committed 53 unforced errors in a tie played at breakneck speed.
“I didn’t really show up today but Holger played great tennis,” said Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2021.
Later Tuesday, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost last year’s final to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to love, has a dangerous assignment against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the night session on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The 20-year-old, ranked 66, also led Djokovic by two sets in the last 16 in 2021 before injury curtailed his challenge.
This year on clay he made the quarter-finals in Marrakech and third round at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid where he was forced to retire against world number three Alexander Zverev.
However, Tsitsipas is enjoying an impressive clay court season in which he has successfully defended his Monte Carlo title, was runner-up in Rome and made the semifinals in Madrid.
The Greek also enjoys a season-leading 31 wins on the tour this year.

Two former women’s champions were also in action.
Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, who is working with Serena Williams’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou, faces Nastasja Schunk, an 18-year-old lucky loser from qualifying, ranked at 165 in the world.
Jelena Ostapenko, who was a shock Roland Garros winner in 2017, defeated Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-4 to end a five-match losing streak having started the year winning 14 of 18.
Ostapenko became the latest player to cast doubt on her appearance at Wimbledon after the tournament was stripped of ranking points in response to its banning of Russian and Belarusian players.
“If there are no points, I’m not really sure what I’m going to,” said the Latvian.
“I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I’m not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.”
Spain’s world number four Paula Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, takes on France’s Fiona Ferro.
Before that match on Court Philippe Chatrier, French fans will possibly bid farewell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the former world number five who will retire once his French Open campaign ends.
Tsonga, unseeded, lost the 2008 Australian Open final to Djokovic as the Serb claimed the first of his 20 Grand Slam titles.
He made it to the semifinals twice at both the French Open and Wimbledon and finished runner-up to Roger Federer at the ATP Finals in 2011.
“It’s a moment which I am sure will be full of emotion,” said the 37-year-old who takes on eighth seed Casper Ruud, the champion in Geneva at the weekend.


Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England

Saudi national golf trio to feature in International Series England
  • Local stars Othman Almulla, Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif join line-up in Newcastle as Asian Tour hosts debut event in the UK next month

Saudi national golf team’s Othman Almulla, Faisal Salhab, and Saud Al-Sharif will join a world-class line-up at next month’s International Series England at Slaley Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort, near Newcastle, from June 2-5.

The trio will compete alongside American Sihwan Kim, currently ranked first on the Asian Tour Order of Merit; Korean Joohyung Kim, last season’s number one; former US Open champion Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland and Thailand’s 15-year-old wonderkid Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat.

All of the players currently ranked in the top 10 on the Asian Tour Merit list will compete in the $2 million tournament, which breaks new ground as it will be the first time the Asian Tour has sanctioned a tournament in the UK. The opportunity will mean a full turnout of the Tour’s membership for the ninth event of the 2022-23 season and the second International Series event.

Following their respective 2021 triumphs — a year that also saw Saudi national team golfers clinch the title at the 40th edition of the Arab Golf Championship, beating more than 10 countries by a comfortable nine-shot margin — Almulla, Salhab and Al-Sharif will head to Slaley Hall for their second big appearance in an Asian Tour tournament after their participation in the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Almulla, the Kingdom’s first-ever professional golfer, said: “I’m excited to be competing in the international series event being held at Slaley hall. To have these opportunities to compete on the world stage against some of the best players in the world is a privilege I cherish. I’m lucky to have the support and guidance of Golf Saudi to help me succeed in my professional golfing career.”

Salhab said: “I’m proud to be competing against some of the best golfers in the world, participating in such tournaments will only make my game better.

“Golf Saudi has done an amazing job in growing the game of golf within the Kingdom and being in this tournament reflects their massive support for us as players. Representing my country internationally means a lot to me and I hope I can do it in the best way.”

Al-Sharif said that he is looking forward to competing alongside his countrymen. “I’m really excited. Playing against top players on a world-class course and in a competitive atmosphere is a huge boost for our confidence and will help us become better golfers. We’ll be making the most out of this experience and showcase a positive side of Saudi golfers to the world.”

Sihwan Kim is leading the way on the Tour thanks to two victories, including a win at the first-ever International Series event, played in Thailand in March, and has earned close to half a million dollars, but Slaley Hall will also see a host of other in-form players competing.

Korean Bio Kim, who is second on the Merit list, and third-ranked Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand will compete after recently recording their first wins on the Asian Tour following its restart in November last year after a two-year break because of the global pandemic.

Joohyung Kim, who at 19 became the second-youngest winner of the Merit title in January, has picked up where he left off from last season, with top-10 finishes in his last three events to sit in fourth place on the rankings.

Kim will make his way to the UK after competing in this week’s US PGA Championship in Oklahoma. Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and South Africa’s Justin Harding, also in action at the season’s second Major Championship, will also be making the trip across the Atlantic. 

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the 2019 Merit champion and six-time winner on Tour; Malaysian Gavin Green, the 2017 number one; and Australian Scott Hend, the most successful international player on the Tour with 10 victories and the 2016 Merit list winner will also be looking for strong performances in England.

Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang, a two-time winner on the Tour since last year’s restart, and Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong, also a winner this season, will add to a stellar line-up.

“The International Series England is a landmark event for the Asian Tour which provides our members with a great opportunity to compete internationally in an exciting, new location,” said Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour.

“An incredibly strong field with assemble for the tournament, which is a reflection of the appetite our members have for the International Series and will also allow us to showcase the Asian Tour’s depth in world-class talent to European fans. We have also received enormous interest from international players wanting to be part of the Asian Tour having seen our steady growth over the past few months.”

The International Series England is promoted by LIV Golf and will be followed by eight more International Series events this season.


Saudi racer Juffali delighted as Theeba Motorsport triumphs on International GT Open debut in France

Saudi racer Juffali delighted as Theeba Motorsport triumphs on International GT Open debut in France
Updated 24 May 2022

Saudi racer Juffali delighted as Theeba Motorsport triumphs on International GT Open debut in France

Saudi racer Juffali delighted as Theeba Motorsport triumphs on International GT Open debut in France
  • Juffali and teammate Adam Christodoulou impressed at Paul Ricard by finishing first in the Pro-Am class in the second race and taking fifth spot in the opening race

RIYADH: Theeba Motorsport founder and Saudi driver Reema Juffali said “she couldn’t be happier” after her team clinched its first victory in the Pro-Am class in the second round of the International GT Open in France.

At the Circuit Paul Ricard, Juffali and British teammate Adam Christodoulou capped off the weekend on a high as they battled to first place, and third overall, in race two after qualifying in 13th.

A day earlier, the pair had finished fifth in their class and seventh overall in race one, scoring their first solid points having taken pole position. Juffali was thrilled with how the weekend went for her team, which only launched last week.

“It’s a first overall podium for the team and first in class, so I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I’m really proud of what we have achieved as a team in such a short space of time.

“It’s very different being purely a driver compared to a driver who manages her own team, but I think it makes it more exciting,” she added.

“Adam did an amazing job today, keeping it clean and getting us across the line despite the handicap. Now it’s about getting our head down and building on what we have achieved this weekend. I’m already ready for the next race.”

Christodoulou described the victory as the “cherry on top” of the weekend.

“As far as races go, they don’t get much better than that. We had a third overall and a win in class, so a brilliant weekend overall,” he said.

“Reema drove really well, the team were great and the car felt perfect all weekend. To fight for the win was the cherry on top.”

In race two, Juffali made short work of her rivals at the rolling start of the hour-long contest, gaining two places to move into 11th.

Opting for an early pitstop, Juffali switched with Christodoulou on lap 11, who, despite rejoining in 15th, began a superb charge up the order.

The timing of the pitstop proved perfect when the leading seven made their later stops, with the team’s undercut pushing Christodoulou up to 10th, and sixth in the Pro-Am class.

Christodoulou then moved up to fifth in class before a late push saw him complete the job to take the lead.

In the opening race, after Christodoulou managed to put the Mercedes AMG GT3 EVO onto the front row, the Briton continued his rapid pace into the start swiftly, pulling away and establishing a commanding lead over the field.

His solid work was undone by a safety car when Dino Steiner stopped on track, just several minutes before the pit window opened.

Despite the setback, he re-established a solid lead before handing over to Juffali. Having served a 20-second success penalty as a result of victory in Estoril last time out, Juffali battled hard to hold on to fifth in class and seventh overall after holding off Alain Valente.

Juffali and Christodoulou will next be in action June 18-19, when the third round of the International GT Open moves to Belgium at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.


16th edition of Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon announced for February 2023

16th edition of Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon announced for February 2023
Updated 24 May 2022

16th edition of Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon announced for February 2023

16th edition of Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon announced for February 2023
  • Under Armour named as the race’s new technical partner for the world’s fastest half marathon.

RAS AL-KHAIMAH: The Ras Al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority announced that the 16th edition of the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, with leading sportswear brand Under Armour named as the new technical partner.

Al-Marjan Island will again host the world’s fastest half marathon, which will see some of the best long-distance athletes, running enthusiasts and amateurs from across the globe compete in one of the key sporting events on the UAE calendar. Registration for next year’s race is now open.

Iyad Rasbey, executive director, Destination Tourism Development & MICE at RAKTDA, said: “We are thrilled to announce the 16th edition of the world’s fastest half marathon to our nature emirate. The Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon has gone from strength to strength with each passing year and I am confident that the 2023 edition of the race will be no different.

“The standard of high-level performances along with the number of records broken that we witnessed in February truly demonstrates how popular the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon is, attracting some of the world’s best elite runners and participants from across the world as well as the local community,” he added.

RAKTDA also announced that Under Armour will sponsor the half marathon as technical partner. The sports brand will provide all participants with its latest, top-of-line apparel to help ensure comfort while improving performance as runners take to the fast and flat course track.

“We are incredibly proud and excited to partner with the Ras Al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and the RCS Sports & Events organization for what is one of the world’s leading running events,” said Lee Devon, vice president of Under Armour. “At Under Armour, it is our mission to make all athletes better and we do this through the lens of great product, innovation and by providing opportunities for all athletes to take part in sport. We recently opened our first store in Ras Al-Khaimah. This and our other stores across the emirates will become hubs for all athletes as they prepare for this event.”

The announcement comes only a few months after world half marathon record holder Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda (57:56) and Ethiopia’s Girmawit Gebrzihair (1:04:14) set new course records in the men’s and women’s elite categories respectively. Their triumphs were among the highlights of the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon, which saw a number of new records being set on the day, as well as some impressive performances and times across the categories.

As well as Kiplimo producing a 15-km world best time of 40:43 on his way to victory, the event also featured a new British record by Eilish McColgan. In just her second competitive half marathon, she smashed Paula Radcliffe’s British 21-year-old half marathon record, clocking an incredible total time of 1:06:26.