Runners get ready for women’s cross-country race in Jeddah

The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah. (Supplied)
The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 December 2021

Runners get ready for women’s cross-country race in Jeddah

The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia organized a marathon race for women in 2018

JEDDAH: The Saudi Athletic Federation is organizing a first-of-its-kind cross-country running event in Jeddah at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium on Friday.

The federation has invited individuals and teams to participate in the race, which is exclusively reserved for Saudi women and girls of all ages.

The federation said there were still spaces to compete in the race, with registration available through links posted on its website and on social media.

Roa Kattan, a member of the Technical Committee of the federation, said: “The race is dedicated for long distances and considered one of the athletic races, and in most countries, it is held in open places and on uneven terrain. This is the first time that the federation has held such a competition for women.”

She added: “It is an official championship to encourage women to participate and discover Saudi girls who would be able to represent the Kingdom as individuals or in teams.”

She continued saying: “We have received the applications of six teams and 87 female competitors and we hope to have more participants.”

Saudi Arabia organized a marathon race for women in 2018, with thousands running in Al-Ahsa, in the east of the Kingdom.


Newcastle’s pre-season plans scrambled following US tournament cancelation

Newcastle’s pre-season plans scrambled following US tournament cancelation
Updated 19 May 2022

Newcastle’s pre-season plans scrambled following US tournament cancelation

Newcastle’s pre-season plans scrambled following US tournament cancelation
  • The cancelation leaves United and Howe with a real summer conundrum, especially just a few days before the end of the Premier League season

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United have expressed their disappointment after their pre-season plans were torn to shreds by US organizers.

The Magpies were due to travel to the States to take part in the inaugural Ohio Cup in Cincinnati and Columbus, starting in July.

However, Newcastle were informed this week by organizers that the tournament, which was also set to feature Wolverhampton Wanderers, Valencia and Villarreal, would no longer go ahead.

No definitive reason has been given for the call-off, although it is understood the cancelation is categorically nothing to do with Newcastle United or their Premier League counterparts Wolves.

And Arab News has learnt the club themselves are angry at the development and timing of it, having had plans for the camp in the pipeline for quite some time.

The cancelation leaves United and Howe with a real summer conundrum, especially just a few days before the end of the Premier League season.

Despite having a number of late summer games already scheduled, against high-quality opposition, the front end of their off-season looks light.

And club officials, with the help of Howe and his team, now face a race against time to get a warm weather summer camp plus friendlies arranged. The first game of the summer is likely to take place in about eight weeks.

The prospect of the club going ahead with a trip to America is not being ruled out, but appears, at this stage, the least likely of all of the options on the table.

A trip a little closer to home is much more likely this summer, with United now working through a list of back-up alternatives.

The issue facing trip planners, and why the late nature of the cancelation is so upsetting to the club, is that many of those back-up options have likely already been booked up by other clubs from across the continent.

While a trip to the Middle East, where United spent two spells earlier this year, is possible again in 2022, it’s unlikely that will happen in pre-season due to the high temperatures in the region.

Meanwhile, Howe was in a less-than-sentimental mood on Monday evening as he gave a run-out to just one United player who is likely to leave this summer.

Dwight Gayle was the only player to get minutes in the 2-0 win over Arsenal, albeit  totalling just three. The likes of Matt Ritchie, and others, who are likely to be shown the summer exit door, did not get the farewell some may have expected.

Discussing the situation and emotional exits at St. James’ Park on Monday night, Howe said: “It’s a difficult one for me to answer, I can only speak for myself really. It was just great to see the families of the players come on because players work incredibly hard and are away from their families a lot.

“It’s great to see the kids, wives, families, mums and dads come onto the pitch and be part of the experience. Brilliant moment to come together because it’s not often I get to see them be together as one. They’ve all played their part in this as well. Let’s not forget how much time the players spend away, they need good role models and good people around, so that was a really touching moment. The photo at the end in front of the Gallowgate End was a great thing.”


Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in shootout to win Europa League

Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in shootout to win Europa League
Updated 19 May 2022

Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in shootout to win Europa League

Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in shootout to win Europa League
  • Rafael Borre was the hero of the night, after already canceling out Joe Aribo’s opener for Rangers as Frankfurt won their first European trophy since 1980 and booked their place in next season’s Champions League

SEVILLE, Spain: Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Rangers 5-4 on penalties to win the Europa League on Wednesday after the final in Seville finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

Aaron Ramsey missed for Rangers in the shootout after coming on as a substitute with only three minutes left of extra time, before Rafael Borre struck the winning shot to complete Frankfurt’s remarkable triumph.

Borre was the hero of the night, after already canceling out Joe Aribo’s opener for Rangers as Frankfurt won their first European trophy since 1980 and booked their place in next season’s Champions League.

“We are all heroes. Without the fans we wouldn’t have made it,” said Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.

Both clubs were looking to win a second European title in their history, Rangers after clinching the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 and Frankfurt after they lifted the UEFA Cup 42 years ago.

But Rangers came up just short at the end of an incredible run to the final. Only 10 years ago this week, Rangers fell into administration before being liquidated and relegated to Scotland’s bottom tier.

Frankfurt had already beaten Real Betis, Barcelona and West Ham en route to the final and they were probably deserving winners, shading a compelling contest that always seemed to lack real technical quality.

With a capacity of just under 43,000, Sevilla’s Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan was never going to be big enough to house all the traveling fans, with Rangers bringing over an estimated 100,000 while around 60,000 followed Frankfurt to Spain.

The vast majority enjoyed the day in good spirits but security concerns were not unfounded, with skirmishes breaking out in the city center during the day on Wednesday while five German fans were arrested late on Tuesday night after police said 200 Frankfurt fans launched an attack on Rangers supporters.

It was a scruffy opening 15 minutes as Joe Aribo almost got away after a neat pirouette by Scott Wright before John Lundstram scraped his studs down the dipping head of Sebastian Rode, leaving the Frankfurt captain with a bloody shirt that had to be changed and a head that had to be strapped.

The German team gradually took control, faster to the ball and slicker in their passing, suffocating Rangers, who were reduced to speculative punts forward to try to escape the press.

Frankfurt’s Ansgar Knauff went close, the penalty box opening up for the winger at the end of a winding run forward, only for Allan McGregor to tip wide.

Rangers had their moments and improved before the break as Lundstram’s header had to be pushed over and Ryan Jack drove too high.

Frankfurt seemed rejuvenated for the start of the second half but it was Rangers who took the lead just before the hour, capitalizing on two dreadful Frankfurt errors, each compounding the other.

First, Djibril Sow misjudged a header in midfield, sending it back behind his own defense for the lively Aribo to latch onto, and then as Frankfurt’s Tutu chased, he slipped, gifting an free run to the Rangers striker, who calmly slotted home.

Lindstrom might have equalized almost immediately but his finish was blocked and then Daichi Kamada looped onto the roof of the net when Rangers had failed to clear.

The pressure was mounting and in the 69th minute, it told, as Filip Kostic was given too much space out wide to cross and then in the middle, Connor Goldson and Calvin Bassey both hesitated to clear. Borre nipped between them and prodded in.

There were precious few opportunities in the final minutes but the contest became stretched in extra-time, with Borre almost capitalizing on a Bassey stumble.

Rangers were the better team in the second period and their golden chance came in the 118th minute as the sprinting Ryan Kent arrived at the back post but somehow hit keeper Trapp from five yards.

To penalties, and the Rangers fans roared when the coin toss put the shoot-out at their end. James Tavernier, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield all scored for Rangers as did Frankfurt’s Christopher Lenz, Ajdin Hrustic and Kamada, whose shot squeezed in off the post.

But Ramsey fired too straight, hitting Trapp’s left foot and after Kostic and Kemar Roofe converted, it was up to Borre to finish it. He made no mistake.


Dustin Johnson looking to get back on track at PGA Championship

Dustin Johnson looking to get back on track at PGA Championship
Updated 19 May 2022

Dustin Johnson looking to get back on track at PGA Championship

Dustin Johnson looking to get back on track at PGA Championship
  • Johnson has gone 27 starts over 15 months since winning the Saudi International

OKLAHOMA, US: Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are examples of how quickly the landscape can change.

Look back one year, and Johnson was the No. 1 player in the world who had been runner-up in the previous two PGA Championships and among the favorites every time he played.

Going into this PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Southern Hills, he is No. 12. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s his lowest ranking in seven years, and the questions have changed. Instead of when he will add another major, it’s about when he will win again.

Johnson has gone 27 starts over 15 months since winning the Saudi International.

“The thing for me has just been driving,” Johnson said. He thought back to the Masters, where his driver was behaving so badly he switched to a 3-wood. That’s not a bad option for most players, just not Johnson.

“I’ve never done that in my life — 3-wood is the last club in my bag that I’d want to hit,” he said. “I’ve always felt most comfortable with a driver.”

That would be a good club for him at Southern Hills after its acclaimed restoration project. Unlike the last time the PGA was here in 2007 and players were hitting mostly irons off the tee. Now that it’s at 7,556 yards for a par 70, the driver could go a long way.

“Obviously, this is a really good place to drive it straight for me,” Johnson said.

He arrived on Monday, taking those long strides up the hill toward the clubhouse, when Johnson was asked if it was his first time in Oklahoma.

“Yep,” he said. “And after this week, it will be my ... .” He finished the sentence with a smile. At age 38, and with no major on the horizon here for the next eight years, well, he’d like to make the most of his time in the Sooner State.

A year ago, Spieth was No. 28 in the world, a month away from ending a long victory drought but still far away from his game being back to the form that made him a major force in golf at age 21.

Now the 28-year-old from Texas is No. 8 and coming off a particularly good stretch that followed an irritating missed cut at the Masters. Spieth won in Hilton Head the following week and then finished one shot behind in Dallas last week.

The PGA Championship is all that’s keeping him from the career Grand Slam, which is one of the key talking points this week. Spieth brought up the missing leg of the Grand Slam as the “elephant in the room.”

But for the state of golf, it’s starting to feel like a herd of pachyderms.

Where’s Phil Mickelson, the defending PGA champion? And what will he do next when he emerges from this self-imposed exile over his comments on the Saudi-funded golf series that seemingly offended both sides?

Tiger Woods still commands all the attention. The gallery was enormous for him playing nine holes on Monday and again on Wednesday in his final tuneup for his return to Southern Hills. Those around him felt it was a victory that he made it through 72 holes at the Masters in his first competitive tournament since his car crash.

“I’ve gotten stronger since then,” Woods said. “It’s still going to be sore, and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future, for sure.”

Not to be overlooked is the Saudi-funded series Greg Norman is orchestrating, set to start in three weeks outside London with still no idea who will be playing, with the PGA Tour denying releases required to play outside the country.

Rory McIlroy said earlier in the week, “It’s going to shape the future of professional golf one way or another, so I think we’re just going to have to see how it all shakes out.”

Spieth could only smile when after a series of questions about the career Grand Slam and his game and Southern Hills, he was asked about Mickelson and the Saudi league.

“Since everyone was lobbing me questions, you just went and threw two bombs,” he said with a wry smile. He didn’t looked bothered, and odds are he wasn’t.

“I’m excited to come here this week and just keep my head down, and none of those distractions weigh on me whatsoever,” he said.

And then there’s Johnson, who doesn’t seem to get distracted by much of anything. He was courted heavily by the Saudi group at the start of the year before declaring he wanted to play against the best on the PGA Tour. He also had no small matter of a wedding to Paulina Gretzky just two weeks after the Masters.

Which was the greater distraction?

“Neither,” he said. “Paulina did an unbelievable job with the wedding. I really didn’t have to do much. I helped for about half an hour with the seating chart. That was about it. That was my whole contribution.”

On Thursday, it’s all about major championship golf. And even with the Masters only five weeks removed, it couldn’t get here soon enough.


Saudi gold medals for Al-Issa, Al-Yassin at GCC Games in Kuwait

Saudi gold medals for Al-Issa, Al-Yassin at GCC Games in Kuwait
Updated 18 May 2022

Saudi gold medals for Al-Issa, Al-Yassin at GCC Games in Kuwait

Saudi gold medals for Al-Issa, Al-Yassin at GCC Games in Kuwait
  • Bronze for Muzna Al-Nassar in women’s 5000 meters and Raghad Abuarish in women’s high jump

Saudi swimmer Ali Al-Issa has claimed a gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke competition on the third day of the GCC Games in Kuwait.

Al-Issa’s win was achieved with a time of 59.79 seconds.

There was more gold medal success for the Saudi contingent as Ahmed Al-Yassin won the decathlon competition with 7,270 points, while his Saudi colleague Saeed Mabrouk took silver with 7,017 points.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of success for Saudi athletes, while some experienced names just missed out on medals.

Al-Issa’s swimming team colleague Youssef Buarish — who took part in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo — could only finish fifth in the final of the 100 meter butterfly race with a time of 56.25 seconds.

In the athletics competition, runner Muzna Al-Nassar repeated her bronze medal performance from Day 2 after finishing third in the 5000 meter race with a time of 20 minutes, 33 seconds.

In the women’s high jump, Raghad Abuarish also claimed bronze after clearing a height of 1.45 meters.

Saudi runner Fahad Al-Subaie won the silver medal in the men’s 200 meter race with a time of 20.92 seconds, while his teammate Mahmoud Hafez finished third — and claimed bronze — with a time of 21.13 seconds.

Yousef Asiri achieved a bronze medal in the men’s 5000 meter race with a time of 14 minutes, 14 seconds.

Also in the athletics competitions, Ahmed Al-Taruti took the bronze in the men’s high jump with a distance of 2.1 meters.

Mohammed Al-Sharida, Fahd Al-Mutairi and Faisal Al-Dajani claimed a set of bronze medals after finishing third in the men’s team shooting competition.


Mourinho says he and Ancelotti still have a lot more to give

Mourinho says he and Ancelotti still have a lot more to give
Updated 18 May 2022

Mourinho says he and Ancelotti still have a lot more to give

Mourinho says he and Ancelotti still have a lot more to give
  • The 59-year-old Mourinho was asked Wednesday if critics had been too quick to write him and 62-year-old Carlo Ancelotti off too quickly
  • “The problem with Carlo was that when you coach Everton you definitely won’t win the Champions League,” Mourinho said

ROME: José Mourinho sees no reason to stop now after reaching another European final while approaching his 60th birthday.
The 59-year-old Mourinho was asked Wednesday if critics had been too quick to write him and 62-year-old Carlo Ancelotti off too quickly.
Mourinho’s Roma will meet Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League final next week. Three days later, Ancelotti’s Real Madrid team will play Liverpool in the Champions League final.
Both coaches had mixed results in their previous jobs in England at Tottenham (Mourinho) and Everton (Ancelotti).
“The problem with Carlo was that when you coach Everton you definitely won’t win the Champions League. My problem is that people looked at it as me taking on jobs to win but it wasn’t about winning,” Mourinho said. “When you have a history of repeated success, people can say those things — it doesn’t bother me.”
Next Wednesday’s match in Tirana, Albania, will mark the fifth European final of Mourinho’s career. He has won all four that he’s coached in so far, over a span of nearly two decades: the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 Champions League finals with Porto; the 2010 Champions League final with Inter Milan; and the 2017 Europa League final with Manchester United.
Still, younger coaches like Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp have attracted more attention than Mourinho in recent years.
“I don’t think about it as ‘the new generation,’ or ‘a different generation,’” Mourinho said. “Quality has no age. The same thing applies to players. There are players who are great at 20 and players who are great at 40.
“When you don’t have the passion anymore that’s when you’re done. When you don’t feel a bit of pressure before these games that means you’re done,” Mourinho added. “I know it for myself and I know Carletto (Ancelotti) fairly well. When you’ve got the passion and the quality, it’s up to us to say when we’re done. We’re the ones who will decide when to quit. But I think you’ll have to wait a while. Because it won’t be soon.”