Record 10,000 runners hit the road in Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon

Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon brought more than 10,000 runners onto the streets of Riyadh on March 5, 2022. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon brought more than 10,000 runners onto the streets of Riyadh on March 5, 2022. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
Saudi participant Khaled Bana along with friend and participant from the UK Harry Taylor after completing the half-marathon (21-km). (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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Saudi participant Khaled Bana along with friend and participant from the UK Harry Taylor after completing the half-marathon (21-km). (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities.
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The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities.
The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)
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Updated 06 March 2022

Record 10,000 runners hit the road in Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon

Record 10,000 runners hit the road in Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon
  • Ethiopian Tadese Tsegaye Getachew triumphs in elite 42-km event as Riyadh hosts runners of all ages and a host of nationalities

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s first international marathon brought more than 10,000 runners onto the streets of the Kingdom’s capital on Saturday — more than double the number expected by race organizers.

Elite competitors joined runners of all ages and a host of nationalities in events ranging from a full 42-km marathon all the way down to a 4-km fun run.

“Since this was our first (full) marathon, we were expecting half the number of the actual turnout,” said Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini, managing director of the Saudi Sports for All Federation.




The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)

“Having more than 10,000 people compete today shows that the physical activity movement in Saudi is growing massively. I think we hit a record and I’m very proud of that.”

The SFA, which was established in 2018, works to drive community sports in the Kingdom. Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, the federation’s president, launched the Riyadh Marathon 2022 last November.

The 42-km course started at King Saud University and wound its way through the capital, with top finishers receiving prize money of more than SR2 million ($533,030).

Other races allowed people of all ages and athletic ability to take part, with food, entertainment and recreational activities also on offer at the Marathon Village.




The Riyadh Marathon 2022 is an integrated event that provided a set of races designed for all ages and physical abilities. (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)

Notable results for Saudi Arabia included Ali Al-Sharani, who finished third in the non-elite full marathon with a time of 2:28:51.4; and Yousef Alasiri, who finished second in the half-marathon (21 km) with a time of 1:08:47.9.
Badr Ali won the 10-km run with a time of 31:33.7, followed by Wesam Alfarsi in 31:35.1.

In the women’s category, Miznah Alnassar finished first with a time 42:57.5 and Fatimah Aljedaani finished third with a time of 43:56.3.

Saleh Almalki came second in the 4-kilometer fun run with a time of 13:20.5.

Al-Husseini said: “Only 2 percent of the world population are elite athletes and after the pandemic, that number decreased to 1.2 percent in 2020. We wanted to increase physical activity across the board and show people that everyone can be a winner.”

Almost 60 percent of runners were Saudi, according to officials, highlighting the growing popularity of sports and physical activity in the Kingdom.




Saudi participant Khaled Bana along with friend and participant from the UK Harry Taylor after completing the half-marathon (21-km). (AN Photo by Zaid Khashogji)

Khaled Bana, 28, from Jeddah, said that the marathon is a great platform for raising awareness of healthier lifestyles and fostering a healthier community.

“A bunch of people in the gym were joining and I thought it could be a good idea to challenge myself,” Bana said.

“The last one I did was almost 14k. This is 21, so it’s an upgrade. I’m glad I finished and it was a great opportunity to see a very active community in the Kingdom.”

Harry Taylor, 25, from the UK, completed the half-marathon in about 1 hour, 30 minutes — 15 minutes behind first place.

“It was a big day for everyone. It’s nice to get together as a community and see people from different parts of Saudi all here in one place,” he said. “We might even do the full marathon next year.”

Under the Quality of Life program — part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 — the SFA has held events, programs and initiatives to help fulfill its mandate of increasing physical activity levels to 40 percent by 2030. That goal was achieved ahead of its target date.

“We wanted to change the perspective that only expats are active, and we’re hoping that this will be a driver for people to be more active in the future,” Al-Husseini said.

_________

42-km elite, males:
1. Tadese Tsegaye Getachew from Ethiopia, 2 hours, 6 minutes, 22.2 seconds; 2. Shiferaw Andualem, Ethiopia, 2:06:23.1; 3. Kiptum Barnabas, Kenya, 2:07:30.09

42-km elite, females
1. Nare Tadu Teshome, Ethiopia, 2:26:32.1; 2. Workenesh Edesa, Ethiopia, 2:26:48.6, 3. Mekhasha Waganesh, Ethiopia, 2:26:55.2


Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
Updated 05 July 2022

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
  • Rafael Nadal shows no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court

LONDON: Rafael Nadal swept into the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Monday, staying on course for a crunch meeting with Nick Kyrgios, who was on his best behavior in a battling five-set win.

In the women’s competition, 2019 champion Simona Halep demolished Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa in just 60 minutes to set up a meeting with Amanda Anisimova.

Nadal, chasing a rare calendar Grand Slam, started his campaign at the All England Club slowly but is now in the groove as he hunts a third Wimbledon crown.

He showed no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court, overcoming a late wobble to seal a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win.

“I think I continued in a positive way until the end where I played a bad game,” said the Spanish second seed.

“In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarterfinals after three years (away from Wimbledon) it’s amazing for me so very, very happy.”

Nadal broke his opponent five times in the match, capitalizing on his fourth match point to reach the Wimbledon quarters for the eighth time.

If the 22-time Grand Slam champion beats 11th seed Taylor Fritz and Kyrgios gets past Chile’s Cristian Garin, they will meet in a mouthwatering semifinal on Friday.

Kyrgios earlier shrugged off a shoulder injury to beat US player Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-2.

The maverick Australian was a changed man just two days after his stormy third-round victory against Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kyrgios looked to be in trouble when Nakashima broke for 4-3 in the fourth and took the set courtesy of a lazy Kyrgios service game.

But he rallied in the decider, passing the 100-ace mark for the tournament and breaking twice to secure the win.

Kyrgios, who needed regular physio treatment, hammered 79 winners, including 35 aces.

The last time the 40th-ranked player reached the last eight at a major was at the Australian Open in 2015, a year after he reached the same stage on his debut at the All England Club.

But he is seen as a major threat to Nadal, whom he beat on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014.

The Australian, 27, said he was trying to stay “in the moment.” 

“I’m not thinking about lifting a trophy or making semifinals or making the final,” he said.

“I’m just thinking about my habits every day, just trying to put in a good performance on the court, then put in a good practice session, try to stay positive, try to really separate.

“You know, once I’m off the court, enjoy time with my team, my girlfriend, and just really enjoy that, then get into the game mode.”

The unseeded Garin pulled off an astonishing comeback against Australia’s Alex de Minaur, whom he had not beaten before.

The Chilean recovered from two sets down and saved two match points in the fifth set to beat the 19th seed in a gruelling contest lasting four hours and 34 minutes.

America’s Fritz, who beat Nadal in the Indian Wells final earlier this year, cruised past Australian qualifier Jason Kubler for the loss of just eight games.

Former world No. 1 Halep is looking increasingly dangerous as she makes stately progress toward a second Wimbledon crown in a draw now short of big names.

The Romanian’s match against Badosa appeared tricky on paper but proved anything but, with the 16th seed coming through 6-1, 6-2.

Halep, yet to drop a set at Wimbledon this year, will face Anisimova of the US for a place in the semifinals.

Anisomova, seeded 20, ended the dream run of French player Harmony Tan, who shocked Serena Williams in her opening match, winning 6-2, 6-3.

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina beat Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets and will face Ajla Tomljanovic after the Australian ended the run of French veteran Alize Cornet.

Earlier, Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said tournament bosses had lodged an appeal against fines handed down by the WTA women’s tour for bans on Russian and Belarusian players.

The All England Club imposed the sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and players were also prevented from playing in Wimbledon warm-up events.

Both the ATP men’s tour and the WTA reacted to the Wimbledon ban by stripping the Grand Slam of ranking points.


US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event
Updated 05 July 2022

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event
  • The eight-team tournament at Monterrey serves as the North American qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and the 2024 Paris Olympics

MONTERREY, Mexico: Two-time defending champion US blanked Haiti 3-0 on Monday in the opening match of the CONCACAF W tournament, a regional qualifier for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

The two-time reigning Women’s World Cup champion US seized a 2-0 half-time lead through goals by Alex Morgan in the 16th and 23rd minutes. Midge Purce added the third in the 84th minute for the Americans.

In the day’s other match, Jamaican captain Khadija Shaw scored in the eighth minute to give her team a 1-0 victory over host Mexico.

The eight-team tournament at Monterrey serves as the North American qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Group A features the USA, Jamaica, Mexico and Haiti while Group B comprises Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

The two top teams in each group will advance to the semifinals and next year’s Women’s World Cup with third-place group teams advancing to next February’s global playoff for three final Women’s World Cup spots.

The CONCACAF champion will advance to the Paris Olympics while the runner-up and third-place teams will meet in a playoff next year to determine another 2024 berth in France.


Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open
Updated 05 July 2022

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open
  • The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman

VIRGINIA WATER, England: Ian Poulter and two other players who signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series won a stay Monday from a British court that allows them to play in the Scottish Open.

Poulter, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa challenged their suspension from the Scottish Open and two other tournaments, the penalty for playing a LIV Golf event outside London without a release from the European tour.

They will be added to the field this week at The Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open, the first European Tour event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman. Poulter is also a PGA Tour member.

Poulter was among 16 players who hinted at legal action over European tour penalties, though the temporary stay after a hearing before Judge Phillip Sycamore, who was appointed by Sports Resolutions (UK), applied only to the three players.

“I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement. “It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”

Pelley was at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland and said he would withhold a more detailed response until the charity event was over, out of respect to the hosts. McManus has attracted a world-class field that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and a host of other major champions.

Poulter also is playing the two-day event in Ireland.

Earlier in the day, he told BBC Sports he was fighting for his right to play golf.

“My commitment to the European Tour has been there since day one,” he said. “And it’s still there today. I’m proud of playing so often, when it was to the detriment of world ranking points and FedEx Cup points I could have earned playing more in America.”

Along with the suspension, players who competed in LIV Golf without permission were fined £100,000 ($121,000), roughly the amount of last-place money in the $20 million LIV events.


Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France
Updated 05 July 2022

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

DUNKIRK, FRANCE: The Tour de France gets back underway Tuesday after a successful three days in Denmark with a series of testing stages that will shape the destiny of the 2022 yellow jersey.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five things worth watching out for in the next seven days:

— With three hilly stages, two mountain days and the treacherous cobbles, attack-minded Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin will be straining at the leash to once more claim the overall leader’s yellow jersey after a fine run in 2021. He can probably not do it in the mountains, but the one-day specialist sits just 20 seconds off Wout van Aert’s lead and may even go for the gun between Dunkirk and Calais on Tuesday.

— The Tour takes on 20km of the old mining roads that led the Paris-Roubaix to gain its nickname ‘the Hell of the North’. That stretch could provide a shake-up in the overall standings and may also reveal the true nature of the pecking order inside the teams with more than one leader.

If Tadej Pogacar’s hand injury is worse than he is showing, it will be put to a rude test. Ineos could protect Adam Yates, or opt to allow Geraint Thomas to plow on if he is in difficulty. Primoz Roglic would appear stronger for Jumbo, but they also have Jonas Vingegaard as a possible leader and will also consider how long to try and keep Wout van Aert in yellow.

— The last time the Tour took on this climb in the Vosges mountains to the storied summit finish, Thomas gained time on all his key rivals on the punishing upper reaches contested over gravel. The Tour winner will likely not be revealed here, with time differences between the overall contenders expected to remain within 30-40 seconds. But this is the Tour’s first summit finish, first mountain stage and will provide major form pointers ahead of the crucial Alpine stages ahead.

— The 10th stage in the Swiss Alps is potentially the most gruling test of the week, with over 40km of tough ascents. It will put Ineos’ promise to race aggressively to the test. They have two climbers in their ranks capable of a bid to put time into defending champion Pogacar, or at least wear him out on a Tour thin on traditional mountain challenges.

— Ineos were talking up a fight ahead of the Tour, suggesting they would race aggressively in their bid to end Pogacar’s reign. Their two leaders are climbers Daniel Martinez and Yates who will have to wait for the mountains to launch an attack. Jumbo-Visma, runners-up in the past two years, said they would be concentrating on just surviving the opening stages. The merits of those differing strategies will be put under the microscope this week.


Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen
Updated 05 July 2022

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen
  • Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals
  • Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona boosted their midfield and defense by signing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on Monday.

The 25-year-old Kessie, who had been playing for AC Milan since 2017, arrives as a free agent on a contract until June 2026 and a buyout clause of €500 million ($522 million).

Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s.

Kessie will be officially introduced on Wednesday. The Ivory Coast midfielder will be the second Ivorian to play for Barcelona, after Yaya Toure in the late 2000s.

The 26-year-old Christensen will be introduced on Thursday. The Danish central defender joined Chelsea’s youth teams in 2012 and had a stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga before returning to Chelsea.

Christensen helped Chelsea win the Champions League, the Europea League and the Club World Cup, and was on the Danish national team that reached the semifinals of the 2020 European Championship.

Barcelona called him “strong and with great vision, a powerful center back who is excellent in the air” and “technically proficient with the ball at his feet, a perfect fit” for the Catalan club.

Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals.

Kessie moved to Italy in 2014 to sign for Atalanta, where he played in the club’s youth squads before joining second-division team Cesena on a loan. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini eventually brought him back to Atalanta and he scored twice in his Serie A debut in 2016.

Kessie joined Milan on loan in 2017 and permanently signed with the club in 2019 for €33 million ($34.5 million). He helped AC Milan win its first title in 11 seasons this year. In his six seasons with Atalanta and Milan, Kessie scored 45 goals.

Barcelona called Kessie “the complete package” and a “strong midfielder with tactical awareness.”

“Kessie is a player who contributes in attack and in defense,” the club said. “Capable of winning the ball back in midfield, the African midfielder also has impressive stats as a goal-scorer, partly due to his ability to make runs into the penalty area.”

He will join a midfield that includes Sergio Busquets, Nico González and Frenkie de Jong.