Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead
Max Verstappen reaped the reward of Charles Leclerc’s misfortune to rack up his third straight win this season in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix and move top of the Formula One drivers’ standings. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 May 2022

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead

Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, takes world championship lead
  • Verstappen had to overcome being blown off the circuit and into the gravel by a gust of wind early on and some technical niggles

MONTMELO: Max Verstappen reaped the reward of Charles Leclerc’s misfortune to rack up his third straight win this season in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix and move top of the Formula One drivers’ standings.
Sergio Perez took second for a Red Bull 1-2 at the Montmelo circuit behind the world champion where in 2016 Verstappen had opened his F1 account as a teenager.
Leclerc was sitting comfortably in the lead from pole until lap 23 when a sudden loss of power proved fatal to his Ferrari.
The man from Monaco arrived in Catalonia 19 points in front in the title race, but left it six points behind Verstappen ahead of his home race next weekend.
Verstappen had to overcome being blown off the circuit and into the gravel by a gust of wind early on and some technical niggles.
“Difficult beginning but a good end! I tried to stay focussed, which is not always easy,” he said.
Mercedes showed improved form after a bumpy start to the season with George Russell claiming third.
Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes threaded his way through the field after being forced into the pits shortly after the start with a puncture to take fifth.


Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time
Updated 57 min 21 sec ago

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time
  • Ibrahim Hassan set a new record for the Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon with a time of 2:06:43
  • Shungo Yokota came in fourth in 2:07:47, setting a record for a Japanese student runner

TOKYO: Ibrahim Hassan of Djibouti won the 71st Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon for the first time on Sunday with a new record of 2:06:43.

Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba crossed the finish line five seconds later for second place, and Japan’s Tsubasa Ichiyama placed third in 2:07:44.

When the pacemaker came off at 30km, Hassan and Kipchumba jumped out and Hassan took the lead after 35km.

“With the win and course record, I’m very, very happy,” the 26-year-old Hassan said. “The course was very good.”

Aoyama Gakuin University’s Shungo Yokota came in fourth in 2:07:47, setting a record for a Japanese student runner.

This year, the right to participate in the “Marathon Grand Championship (MGC)”, the qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, was at stake.


Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown
Updated 06 February 2023

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown
  • Saudi and Asian champions Al-Hilal take on Brazil’s Flamengo, Cairo giants Al-Ahly face mighty Real Madrid in semifinals
  • Al-Hilal and Flamengo met at the same stage in 2019, with the South Americans winning 3-1

It was less than three months ago when Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored spectacular goals to defeat Argentina and set the 2022 World Cup on fire.

There is now another massive South American test for the pair as Al-Hilal take on Brazilian giants Flamengo in the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup in Tangier on Tuesday. The prize of a final against mighty Real Madrid or Arab rivals Al-Ahly awaits.

The Saudi Arabian and Asian champions are still recovering from an epic showdown with local heroes Wydad AC on Saturday.

Not only did the Riyadh giants have to come back from a goal down against the African champions — and complete 120 minutes of a tough encounter — but they also had to deal with 50,000 intimidating fans.

Al-Hilal came through in the end thanks to a late equalizer from Mohamed Kanno and then a tense penalty shootout.

Al-Hilal and Flamengo met at the same stage in 2019, with the South Americans winning 3-1. Al-Hilal took the lead thanks to an Al-Dawsari goal after just 18 minutes. Flamengo equalized and then, with 12 minutes remaining, Bruno Henrique — not the player who now turns out for Al-Ittihad — put the Rio de Janeiro club ahead. A late own-goal from Ali Al-Bulaihi sealed Hilal’s fate.

Both Al-Bulaihi and Al-Dawsari should play this time too, with Jang Hyun-soo another survivor from that game.

Jang said: “Facing a Brazilian team such as Flamengo in the semifinals will be difficult.

“We previously faced them in the same tournament. We lost at that time but we always aim to win every game we play, and this is no different.

“We will give everything we have to reach the final and then to be champions.”

Absences make the task harder. Midfielder Kanno, sent off for two bookable offenses on Saturday, is out, while Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo is doubtful.

Given that a quartet of Saudi Arabian internationals — captain Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammed Al-Breik and Abdulellah Al-Malki — did not even make the journey from Riyadh, then coach Ramon Diaz has a lot to think about.

With one South American triumph in the last 15 tournaments, Flamengo, led by former Al-Ahli coach Vitor Pereira, would love to take the trophy back home.

They are in decent form back in Brazil, they do not have the injury problems of their Saudi opponents, but have had a lengthy journey.

If Al-Hilal do manage to win, it would put them in a major final, and their fans in dreamland. It would be another major achievement for Arab football; it is hard to imagine what an Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly final would mean to the region.

But first the Egyptians have the matter of a semifinal against Real Madrid, arguably the biggest club in the world.

The Spaniards not only won the European title for a record-extending 14th time last year, but they are also the most successful team in this tournament, with four championships.

For Al-Hilal to beat Flamengo would be seen as a surprise, but Al-Ahly triumphing would be an even bigger shock.

But the Cairo giants are in good form. Ten wins and five draws from the first 15 games of the Egyptian Premier League season have steered them well clear at the top of the standings, and they have already progressed past Auckland City and Seattle Sounders in this tournament, by 3-0 and 1-0 respectively. 

Real Madrid, with stars such as Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, are hot favorites, although they trail rivals Barcelona in Spain by eight points following defeat at the weekend.

Al-Ahly’s Swiss coach Marcel Koller said: “It is a great achievement to set up a date with Real Madrid in the semifinals.

“We will prepare both theoretically and technically for the game and we know it will be a big challenge.”

The Red Giants have faced European champions once before, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in 2020 on their way to third place — the same position they finished last year after defeating Al-Hilal in the third and fourth-place play-off.

It is possible that these two giants of Arabian football will meet at the same stage again this weekend — but there is also still time to dream that it will be in the final.


Former Newcastle United winger Atsu missing after Turkiye earthquake

 Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
Updated 8 min 36 sec ago

Former Newcastle United winger Atsu missing after Turkiye earthquake

 Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
  • “Praying for some positive news,” Atsu’s former club Newcastle said in a social media post
  • Huge earthquake has killed more than 2,200 people and injured thousands more on Monday

ACCRA: Ghana international winger Christian Atsu is among those missing after the collapse of an apartment building in Hatay, Turkiye, following Monday’s huge earthquake.
He scored a 97th minute winner for Turkish top-flight side Hatayspor on Sunday night as they beat Kasımpasa 1-0, but just hours later was reported missing following the 7.8 magnitude quake that brought down whole apartment blocks in several Turkish and Syrian cities.
Hatayspor vice president Mustafa Ozat told Turkish TV station Play Spor: “Christian Atsu and (club sporting director) Taner Savut are still under the rubble.”
He told BeIN Sports several players and officials had been rescued and the club was working to help others.
Atsu, 31, played in the Premier League for Newcastle United and Everton, on loan from Chelsea, but joined Hatayspor in September.
Newcastle United, who Atsu helped to promotion from the Championship in the 2016/17, tweeted they were “praying for some positive news.” Chelsea also tweeted their prayers.
“We pray for Ghana International Christian Atsu and victims of the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria,” the Ghana Football Association tweeted. “We remain hopeful for positive news.”
Atsu was last selected to play for Ghana in 2019, but has not officially retired from international football.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the survivors, and we pray that our fellow Ghanaian, Christian Atsu, is found safe and sound,” Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted.


Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 15

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 15
Roshn Saudi League players of the week by statistical website Sofascore. supplied
Updated 06 February 2023

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 15

Team of the week for Roshn Saudi League round 15
  • Goalkeeper Martin Campana of Al-Batin was the only star of his category

Riyadh: Alejandro Kaku has been voted the Roshn Saudi League player of the week by statistical website Sofascore after an incredible performance in round 15 of the season.

The 28-year-old Paraguayan Al-Taawoun player ranked 9.5 following his assist for the only goal against Al-Batin, securing his team’s victory. He created four big chances and touched the ball 89 times in the match.

Goalkeeper Martin Campana of Al-Batin was the only star of his category.

As for defenders, Santos from Al-Shabab, Saad Natiq from Abha, and Hassan Kadesh from Al-Taawoun were among the top players.

Midfielder Sultan Mandash of Al-Fayha, Abha’s Saad Buguir, Alfa Semedo from Al-Tai, and Carlos Junior from Al-Shabab ranked top of their categories.

Forward Santi Mina from Al-Shabab, Robin Quaison from Al-Ittifaq, as well as player of the week Kaku were the best in their categories.


Prince Khaled hails ‘amazing first week’ as Aurelien Giraud and Rayssa Leal win gold at skate champs opener in Sharjah

Prince Khaled hails ‘amazing first week’ as Aurelien Giraud and Rayssa Leal win gold at skate champs opener in Sharjah
Updated 06 February 2023

Prince Khaled hails ‘amazing first week’ as Aurelien Giraud and Rayssa Leal win gold at skate champs opener in Sharjah

Prince Khaled hails ‘amazing first week’ as Aurelien Giraud and Rayssa Leal win gold at skate champs opener in Sharjah
  • The Street 2022 World Championships, and the Park 2022 World Championships which runs until Feb. 12 at Aljada Skate Park, are qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris

SHARJAH: France’s skateboarder Aurelien Giraud has won the men’s Street 2022 World Championships at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah, while Brazil’s 15-year-old Rayssa Leal claimed gold in the women’s event.

The Street and Park world championships are being co-organized by World Skate and the UAE-based master developer Arada.

Both events, which run until Feb. 12 at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah, act as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“We’ve had an amazing first week and as you would expect from a world championships, the standard has been incredibly high, the support has been loud and colorful and the emotions have run high,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, vice chairman of Arada, developers of the competition’s new venue.

“During the Street finals, as you’ve seen, it was exciting to see Aurelien Giraud from France and Rayssa Leal from Brazil take gold in the men’s and women’s events respectively. Judging by the tears and celebrations it was obvious how much it meant to them to win in Sharjah, and it was a really riveting competition.”

“From a wider perspective, it’s been a truly multicultural event, with spectators and athletes from 63 nations around the world, most of them travelling to the Middle East for the first time,” he added. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the athletes, fans, and our partners at World Skate.”

A dramatic Sunday in the men’s Street saw Giraud out of the medal positions entering his fourth attempt in the final’s trick section, where a stunning backside 360 claimed 91.48 points and, ultimately, gold. Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro earned silver with 267.38 points — not quite enough to beat Giraud’s 269.33 total — while 12-year-old Japanese sensation Onodera Ginwoo took bronze through his 263.04 score.

The women’s final proved incredibly close, with Leal — whose top run of 83.32 was added to with best trick scores of 85.04 and 87.22 — earning 255.58 points to claim gold. It was a total enough to edge out 12-year-old Australian Chloe Covell’s 253.51 and Japan’s Momiji Nishiya’s 253.30 into silver and bronze. Even more impressively, Leal triumphed despite heavy strapping on a wrist injury sustained during a fall in practice earlier in the week.

With the Street competition over, the action moved swiftly onto the Park Championship, and Prince Khaled believes both events will have a long-term influence on the sport in the region.

“These championships have already witnessed impressive worldwide coverage and have really helped to put Sharjah and Aljada on the map as a new heavyweight destination for skateboarding globally,” he said. “The Park competition is getting underway now, wrapping up on Sunday Feb. 12, so the eyes of the skateboarding world are still very much on the UAE.”

“Skateboarding is one of the fastest-growing sports globally but I think it’s fair to say that the bigger competitions have generally been based in North and South America, Australia, Europe and Japan, where the sport is already well-known and popular,” said Prince Khaled. “For any sport to become truly global, it needs to come to places like the Middle East, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with these events.”

Prince Khaled said the competitions are just the beginning for Arada, and he looks forward to continuing the developer’s partnership with World Skate in the near future.

“A major focus for us going forward will be improving the number of local skaters taking part,” he said. “While we’ve had great representation from Bahrain, Oman and Morocco, the presence of a world-class facility like the Aljada Skate Park is really going to help local skaters take the next step to compete at the highest level and maybe even stand on the podium one day.”

Prince Khaled also revealed his delight at handing the winners their medals in Sharjah. “From a personal perspective, my work at the Saudi Sports for All Federation gives me a lot of opportunities to be engaged at every level with athletics; I don’t think there’s anything more invigorating,” he said.

“To award these globally relevant athletes the medals at Aljada, our community, gave me a lot of pride. To see everyone on (the) ground living this huge moment together, that’s what creating communities is really about.

“To date, Aljada has welcomed thousands of people to watch the Olympic skateboarding qualifiers, and the athletes felt our energy, they knew we were rooting for them and holding our breath during the most difficult segments,” said Prince Khaled.

Men’s Street 2022 World Championships final points results:

Aurelien Giraud, 269.33 (France)

Gustavo Ribeiro, 267.38 (Portugal)

Ginwoo Onodera, 263.04 (Japan)

Kelvin Hoefler, 248.59 (Brazil)

Richard Tury, 245.52 (Slovakia)

Jagger Eaton, 179.15 (US)

Chris Joslin, 179.08 (US)

Sora Shirai, 155.78 (Japan)

Women’s Street 2022 World Championships final results:

Rayssa Leal, 255.58 (Brazil)

Chloe Covell, 253.51 (Australia)

Momiji Nishiya, 253.30 (Japan)

Rizu Akama, 251.91 (Japan)

Funa Nakayama, 240.79 (Japan)

Gabriela Mazetto, 221.45 (Brazil)

Paige Heyn, 211.71 (US)

Pamela Rosa, 126.52 (Brazil)