Saudi Arabia bags nine medals at 2022 Asian Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships

Saudi Arabia bags nine medals at 2022 Asian Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships
Kariman Abu Al-Jadayel won bronze in the Open women’s 2000m race. (Saudi Rowding Federation)
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Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi Arabia bags nine medals at 2022 Asian Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships

Saudi Arabia bags nine medals at 2022 Asian Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships
  • Winners book their places at world rowing indoor titles in February

RIYADH: Saudi rowers have bagged nine medals, including two golds, at the 2022 Asian Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships to qualify for the upcoming world championships.

Mohammed Al-Matrood and Faten Mirza clinched gold in the 2,000m and 500m races in the masters category, while Khaled Shaker won silver in the 500m masters category and Iman Rafiq finished second in the open category in the 500m.

Bronze medals were claimed by Omar Al-Sayed in the men’s under-16 2,000m race, Khaled Shaker in the 2,000m masters event, and Kariman Abu Al-Jadayel in the open women’s 2,000m race.

The Saudi medalists have now qualified for the 2022 World Rowing Indoor Championships on Feb. 25-26.

Ali Hussein Ali Reda, chairman of the Saudi Rowing Federation, congratulated the Saudi team as well as technical and administrative staff.

“We are proud of this achievement and we look forward to more hard work to achieve the best results at the upcoming championships, within the strategic plan that we have set,” he said.

Youssef Wael Julidan, the federation’s executive director, said that the medals were the result of hard work by competitors and coaches in recent months.


Liverpool’s Salah eyes Champions League revenge against Real Madrid

Liverpool’s Salah eyes Champions League revenge against Real Madrid
Updated 7 min 11 sec ago

Liverpool’s Salah eyes Champions League revenge against Real Madrid

Liverpool’s Salah eyes Champions League revenge against Real Madrid
  • The Egypt forward made a tearful first-half exit after suffering a shoulder injury in a challenge with Real defender Sergio Ramos, who was accused of cynically slamming his opponent into the turf
  • Even though Ramos has since moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, Salah would dearly love to make Real pay when they meet again at the Stade de France this weekend

LONDON: “We have a score to settle,” Mohamed Salah posted on social media moments after Real Madrid set up a re-match with Liverpool in Saturday’s Champions League final.

Salah’s first appearance in European club football’s showpiece game came to an agonizingly premature end in Kyiv four years ago.

The Egypt forward made a tearful first-half exit after suffering a shoulder injury in a challenge with Real defender Sergio Ramos, who was accused of cynically slamming his opponent into the turf.

Madrid went on to win 3-1 and Salah has never been able to shake the bitter memories of that night.

“That was the worst moment in my career,” the 29-year-old said at Liverpool’s pre-match media day this week. “I was really, really down in that time.

“I was like: ‘We cannot lose this way.’ I never felt that feeling before in football, especially the first Champions League (final) for all of us.”

Salah made amends 12 months later, scoring a penalty as Liverpool beat Tottenham to be crowned European champions for the sixth time.

But even though Ramos has since moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, Salah would dearly love to make Real pay when they meet again at the Stade de France this weekend.

“I think it is revenge time,” Salah said as he picked up his award as the Football Writers’ Association player of the year earlier this month.

While Salah has retaliation on his mind, he travels to Paris besieged by concerns over his form, his fitness and even his long-term future at Liverpool.

His 23rd goal of the Premier League season against Wolves on Sunday meant he finished as the joint top-scorer in the competition alongside Tottenham’s Son Heung-min.

It is the third time he has topped the charts and he added luster to his season by also finishing as the top provider of assists.

Yet the stunning early-season form that secured Salah the writers’ honor has deserted him in recent months.

His 31st club goal of the campaign as Liverpool narrowly lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race on Sunday was just his third in his past 17 games for club and country.

That run includes a defeat on penalties against teammate Sadio Mane’s Senegal in a World Cup playoff, a repeat of the result in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

The demands of an exhausting season are beginning to show even before the final in Paris, for a player who is rarely injured.

Salah was forced off early in Liverpool’s FA Cup final victory over Chelsea and did not start either of their final two league games to ensure he was fit to face Madrid.

The caution shown by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side were chasing an unprecedented quadruple until they were pipped to the league title by City, is understandable.

In five seasons since returning to England Salah has scored 156 goals, playing a huge role in Liverpool’s first Premier League title for 30 years in 2020, as well as their runs to three Champions League finals.

One persistent cloud on the horizon is that his contract expires at the end of next season and negotiations have dragged on, with reports that he wants to be the Premier League’s highest-paid player.

Salah confirmed this week that he would at least see out the final year of his deal, but refused to commit his longer-term future to the Reds.

Despite his history with Madrid, Real could now prove the most likely destination should he choose to leave Anfield.

Los Blancos are in need of a superstar signing to soften the blow of being turned down by Kylian Mbappe, who has decided to remain at PSG.

Liverpool boast impressive attacking riches but a fit and firing Salah would be a huge weapon against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real — and the player himself has clearly not lost confidence.

“If you compare me with any player in my position, not only in my team but in the world, you will find that I am the best,” he told BeIn Sports.


World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial
Updated 27 May 2022

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial

World No. 1 Scheffler headlines leading bunch at Colonial
  • Among the other co-leaders, Nick Taylor was 5-under after an eagle at the 12th, but the Canadian also made a bogey on his final hole

LOS ANGELES: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler bounced back from his missed cut at the PGA Championship to headline a group of eight players sharing the first round lead in the Charles Schwab Challenge on Thursday.

Masters champion Scheffler acknowledged it was frustrating to miss the cut at Southern Hills — his first missed cut since October.

But he said he didn’t let it prey on him, and came back strong at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, with four birdies in his 4-under par 66.

“You never want to miss a cut,” Scheffler said. “I hadn’t missed a cut in a while up to that point, so I think it makes it even more frustrating just knowing that I was playing really good golf and I just didn’t have it that week.

“That stuff happens. If I didn’t like bad draws or making crazy mistakes and stuff like that, I would have played a different sport. A lot of weird stuff happens in golf.”

Scheffler teed off on 10 and rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at the 14th and drained a 40-footer at the 17th — where he was in a fairway bunker.

He added birdies from inside three feet at the 18th and seventh to join the big leading bunch.

That group also included former Masters champion Patrick Reed, former US Open winner Webb Simpson, Harold Varner, Chris Kirk, Nick Taylor, Cam Davis and Beau Hossler.

Reed was five-under through 17 holes but bogeyed his final hole, the ninth.

“It was steady,” Reed said. “Hit a lot of fairways, and playing this golf course from the fairway, you’re able to attack.

“To go around and birdie all four of the par-threes always helps,” added Reed, who has missed five cuts this season and posted just one top-10 finish.

“It feels good to get a number out of it,” Reed said.

Among the other co-leaders, Taylor was 5-under after an eagle at the 12th, but the Canadian also made a bogey on his final hole.

Hossler, meanwhile, joined the leading group with his second eagle of the day at his last hole, the ninth, where he holed out from 135 yards out in the fairway.

The jampacked leaderboard saw another seven players a stroke back on 67: South African Dylan Frittelli, Colombian Camilo Villegas and Americans Kevin Na, Davis Riley, Scott Stallings, Pat Perez and Austin Smotherman.

Another 10 players were two shots off the lead on 68.

Justin Thomas, who won his second major title with a playoff triumph at Southern Hills on Sunday, carded a 1-over par 71. Will Zalatoris, beaten in the playoff, carded a 72.

Chile’s Mito Pereira, who missed out on the playoff after a 72nd-hole collapse on Sunday, opened with an even par 70.


Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage
Updated 27 May 2022

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage

Cavendish thwarted as De Bondt wins Giro 18th stage
  • The powerfully-built 30-year-old De Bondt outsprinted Jumbo’s Edoardo Affini for a photo finish as Magnus Cort of EF was third and Davide Bardiani of CSF fourth after they had worked together over two laps of a tight downtown circuit at Treviso

TREVISO, Italy: Belgian Dries De Bondt won stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday as a quartet of escapees defied a frantic bid from the sprinters to reel them in over the final kilometer.

The final flat stage on this 21-day race around Italy was supposed to be the last chance for sprinters such as Arnaud Demare and Mark Cavendish, but in a rare event the mass bunch sprint was denied by the escape group.

“It’s a we question, not an I question. It was a collaboration (working together) until the last kilometer,” De Bondt said.

“Everyone said Cavendish or Demare or (Alberto) Dainese was going to win — it was written in the stars.

“But there was no moment of doubt, nobody skipped one turn,” he said of the escape.

The powerfully-built 30-year-old De Bondt outsprinted Jumbo’s Edoardo Affini for a photo finish as Magnus Cort of EF was third and Davide Bardiani of CSF fourth after they had worked together over two laps of a tight downtown circuit at Treviso.

The sprint pack started that 20km slog with a deficit of only 2 minutes, and would have caught the quartet on a less technically demanding circuit.

Frenchman Demare of FDJ still leads in the sprint points rankings with a tally of 254 while the 37-year-old Cavendish is second on 132.

Ecuadorian former Giro winner Richard Carapaz of Ineos maintains his 03sec lead in the overall standings on Australian Jai Hindley.

“Today was a fast stage. We thought it was going to be relaxed and easy but it went quickly today,” said Carapaz, who had been hoping for a slower run ahead of the finale.

Hindley had a fright on Thursday when he took a puncture late in the race.

“The rules say if it’s in the last 3km its ok, you don’t lose time,” said a relieved Bora director Jens Zemka.

“We are highly motivated for the run in,” he said.

Bahrain Victorious leader Mikel Landa is third at 1min 05sec.

“If I see any opportunities I’ll attack,” said the Spaniard. “There’s no fear of losing my podium place now (Joao) Almeida is out.”

Almeida’s hopes of finishing on the podium ended overnight as he withdrew after testing positive for Covid-19 when he was just 49 sec off third-placed Mikel Landa.

Friday’s ride from Marano Lagunare to Santuario di Castelmonte features four climbs.

But Saturday’s high altitude affair will be the real showdown as it climbs over 2000m altitude three times.

Sunday’s final stage is a medium length 17.4km individual time-trial into Verona where Carapaz claimed overall victory three years ago.


Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic
Updated 27 May 2022

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic

Swiatek runs streak to 30 as Tsitsipas survives another French Open epic
  • Swiatek, the 2020 champion in Paris, is on the best streak since Serena Williams’s 34-match winning run in 2013 and goes on to face Danka Kovinic of Montenegro for a place in the last 16
  • Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed another epic performance to reach the third round, beating world No. 134 and qualifier Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic

PARIS: Unstoppable world No. 1 Iga Swiatek racked up her 30th successive victory at the French Open on Thursday as 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas survived another Roland Garros rollercoaster.

Swiatek swept past Alison Riske of the US 6-0, 6-2 to reach the third round as only three of the top 10 women’s seeds survived the opening two rounds.

Eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova and Danielle Collins, the ninth seed, joined fellow top 10 players, defending champion Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari, Ons Jabeur, Anett Kontaveit and former winner Garbine Muguruza in failing to reach the last 32.

Swiatek, the 2020 champion in Paris, is on the best streak since Serena Williams’s 34-match winning run in 2013 and goes on to face Danka Kovinic of Montenegro for a place in the last 16.

Swiatek raced through the first set against 43rd-ranked Riske in just 21 minutes and was 3-0 up in the second before the American avoided a ‘double bagel’.

The Pole still managed to take her record of 6-0 sets in 2022 to a season-leading 15.

“I’m pretty happy to play some solid tennis,” said Swiatek who joins third seed Paula Badosa and seventh-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the last 32.

Fourth seed Tsitsipas needed another epic performance to reach the third round, beating world No. 134 and qualifier Zdenek Kolar of the Czech Republic.

The Greek star saved four set points in the fourth set tiebreaker to win 6-3, 7-6 (10/8), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (9/7) in a little over four hours.

On Tuesday, Tsitsipas had to come back from two sets down to defeat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.

Kolar, 25, was playing in his maiden Grand Slam having tried and failed 16 times to qualify.

Tsitsipas will face Sweden’s Mikael Ymer for a place in the last 16.

“He drove me crazy,” said Tsitsipas. “It was really frustrating because he got behind every ball.”

Pliskova was knocked out by French world number 227 Leolia Jeanjean while Collins fell to American compatriot Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3.

Pliskova, a semifinalist in Paris in 2017, lost 6-2, 6-2 to 26-year-old Jeanjean.

Jeanjean is the lowest-ranked woman to beat a top 10 player at Roland Garros in 34 years.

Considered a future star at 12, she saw her career abruptly halted by injuries, including a triple dislocation of the knee.

She then left to study in the United States, only returning to top-level tennis at the end of 2020.

“I wanted to come back so as not to regret anything. I think I made the right choice,” she said.

Pliskova has made the second week at Roland Garros just once in 11 visits.

Jeanjean will next face Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu who was fortunate not to be defaulted in her 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 win over 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Begu, in frustration, bounced a racquet into the crowd which then hit a child who burst into tears.

The supervisor was called but the 31-year-old escaped with a warning.

“It was embarrassing and I apologize,” said Begu.

World No. 3 Badosa overcame a scare to defeat 68th-ranked Kaja Juvan of Slovenia 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Spain’s Badosa, a quarter-finalist in 2021, recovered from a break down in the decider to set up a meeting with 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova.

New York-born Badosa has endured a mediocre clay court season with a semifinal run in Stuttgart but early exits at the elite events in Madrid and Rome.

“That competitive streak that I had lost in recent weeks has come back,” she warned.

Simona Halep, the 2018 champion, fell to big-serving Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen, playing just her second Slam, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

Halep admitted after the match that she had suffered a panic attack at the end of the first set. Sabalenka saw off Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev, the men’s second seed, had few problems in making the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Laslo Djere of Serbia.

Medvedev, who made the quarterfinals in 2021, goes on to face another Serb in Miomir Kecmanovic, the 28th seed.

Djere hit 39 winners Thursday but was undone by 68 unforced errors.

Danish teenager Holger Rune reached his first Slam third round with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen.

The 19-year-old fired 28 winners and managed to avoid a worrying injury when his foot became lodged in a tarpaulin cover on Court 12.


Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part
Updated 26 May 2022

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part

Qatar braces for 200,000 daily World Cup air passengers; Saudia to play part
  • Saudia chief executive Ibrahim Koshy said his airline would run at least 30 daily round trip flights from the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, that could carry 10,000 fans
  • Qatar Airways will cut flights to destinations that are ‘irrelevant’ to the World Cup, so that it can increase flights to countries taking part

DOHA: Qatar will only let football fans with match tickets enter the Gulf state during the World Cup tournament, officials said Thursday as they announced that scores of shuttle flights would bring in thousands of fans each day from neighboring countries.

Facing growing pressure to cope with the four-week football tournament, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the national airline would halt some routes to countries not involved in the 32-nation tournament during the tournament and reduce others.

Baker, who is also tourist minister, said Qatar’s Hamad International Airport and the older Doha International Airport would double capacity so that they can process more than 200,000 people a day.

The tiny state is desperately trying to find rooms for the 1.4 million predicted visitors and a top World Cup organizing committee official said only fans with tickets would be allowed in during the four weeks from November 21.

Fans will have to get a special pass, a Haya card, to enter the country and stadiums. They will need a match ticket to get the pass.

Saeed Al-Kuwari, director of the Haya digital platform for the organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, told AFP: “The only people who will enter the country during the tournament are holders of the Haya digital card.”

Qataris and legal residents will also be able to enter but authorities have yet to announce how business people will be processed.

Baker announced that Saudia, Kuwait Airways, flydubai and Oman Air will organize more than 160 daily flights from November 20 to bring supporters on one-day trips to see matches.

Officials estimate that more than 20,000 fans could come in each day on the shuttles.

Saudia chief executive Ibrahim Koshy said his airline would run at least 30 daily round trip flights from the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, that could carry 10,000 fans.

Flydubai would operate at least 30 return flights, Kuwait Airways 10 and Oman Air 24, Baker said.

All flights would be reserved for fans with World Cup tickets who would go through a special booking that Baker promised would provide a “seamless” immigration and security processing as though they were entering on a domestic flight.

Baker said Qatar’s civil aviation authorities were increasing airspace capacity so that the three runways at Hamad airport could operate “continuously” during the World Cup.

He said Qatar Airways would cut flights to destinations that are “irrelevant” to the World Cup, so that it could increase flights to countries taking part.

Some 70 percent of Qatar Airways regular flights would see their times changed so that extra flights can be organized.

The airports would have to handle extra charter flights and airlines that have asked to establish regular lines because of the World Cup.

He said “state of the art immigration systems” would be introduced to speed up the arrival of international passengers.