Vuillermoz caps comeback with Dauphine stage and race lead

Vuillermoz caps comeback with Dauphine stage and race lead
Totalenergies team's Alexis Vuillermoz celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the 2nd stage of the 74th edition of the Criterium du Dauphine cycling race in Brives-Charensac on June 6, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2022

Vuillermoz caps comeback with Dauphine stage and race lead

Vuillermoz caps comeback with Dauphine stage and race lead
  • 'It’s amazing. After two years of hardship... I could have stopped my career. But despite everything I wanted to come back,' says the 34-year-old Frenchman

BRIVES-CHARENSAC, France: Alexis Vuillermoz, a veteran who feared for his life after a crash last season, capped his recovery by winning a frantic sprint on Monday to take the overall lead in the Criterium du Dauphine.

The 34-year-old Frenchman broke a kneecap in 2020 and then crashed badly in the Tour of Switzerland last June.

“A year ago, I fractured my pelvis. The doctors said it was the end of my career. I was even afraid for my life, I ended up in intensive care,” he said at the finish on Monday.

“It’s amazing. After two years of hardship... I could have stopped my career. But despite everything I wanted to come back.”

Vuillermoz started the season strongly, with half-a-dozen top-10 finishes.

“All that was missing was the victory. This is the icing on the cake,” he said.

Vuillermoz was part of a small, early, breakaway in the 170km second stage to Brives-Charensac.

He was not supposed to join the escape, “to save strength for the next stage.”

“But the break went off and I said to myself ‘we’ll see, never mind tomorrow’,” he added.

“That’s the attacking bike racing I like.”

The five riders built a lead of nearly four and a half minutes before nursing their shrinking advantage over the final kilometers.

With the charging peloton closing in, Frenchman Olivier Le Gac of Groupama seemed to catch out the other breakaway riders with an early surge for the line.

But Vuillermoz, riding for TotalEnergies, and Norwegian Anders Skaarseth of Uno-X gave chase and passed inches from the line.

“The sprint was a bit messy,” said Vuillermoz.

“I saw Olivier launch the sprint from very far away at 300 meters, he opened a small gap. I didn’t think I would be able to come back, but I saw that he got stuck a little bit at the 50 meters.”

The long sprint gave the winner an asthma attack.

“But I know how to manage it, you just have to relax.”

Jumbo’s Wout Van Aert led the pack home five seconds behind, but could not save his overall lead.

“I did a good sprint, but it’s a shame to win for sixth place rather than for the win,” said Van Aert.

The first three picked up enough bonus seconds to move to the top of the standings.

The yellow jersey is “a kid’s dream” said Vuillermoz.

He is three seconds ahead of Skaarseth, four ahead of Le Gac and five clear of Belgian star Van Aert.

“The breakaway played it smart, hats off to them,” said Van Aert.

Vuillermoz took the ninth win of a career that includes a 2015 Tour de France stage victory on the Mur de Bretagne.

Tuesday’s 169-kilometer-long third stage is a hilly ride from Saint-Paulien to Chastreix-Sancy in central France.

“I have never worn a distinctive jersey before, it will be a very nice day,” said Vuillermoz. “I think it will be hard to keep it after today’s efforts but I’m going to fight, I’m not going to give up.”


Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
Updated 7 sec ago

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
  • All visitors aged over six would have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament
DOHA: Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar later this year, authorities in the Gulf state said on Thursday.
All visitors aged over six would have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts November 20, the authorities said in new health guidelines.

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
  • Top two teams of qualification campaign in Oman will advance to final 2023 Asia Qualifier with place in 2024 World Cup at stake

Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning take on Bahrain in their opening fixture of the ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2 — Asia qualifiers taking place in Oman.

The youngsters from the Kingdom will then face the hosts on Saturday, Oct. 1, before concluding their Group A matches with a fixture against Bhutan on Monday, Oct 3.

The eight-team qualification campaign also includes Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore and Thailand, who make up Group B, and will feature 16 matches over nine days.

The top two teams will then advance to the 2023 Asia Qualifier alongside already-qualified Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and the UAE, with a place at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 at stake.

The Saudi squad landed in Muscat on Wednesday after concluding a 45-day intensive training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.


John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
Updated 29 September 2022

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
  • WWE superstar and actor honored after granting his 650th wish earlier this year

RIYADH: WWE superstar John Cena has officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records.

The multiple wrestling champion has set a new record for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, by reaching 650 for their beneficiaries.

Cena’s total was called a “herculean” effort by the Guinness World Records website as no celebrity had managed more than 200.

Make-A-Wish revealed that Cena, who over the last 16 years has become a Hollywood superstar as well, is their most requested celebrity since the foundation’s inception in 1980.

Cena first worked with Make-A-Wish in 2002, and reached his landmark record on July 19, 2022.

“I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing,” the 45-year-old WWE superstar said in an interview with Reuters after being honored for completing 500 wishes in 2015.

“If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” Cena added.

This isn’t the first time John Cena has had a major landmark with Make-A-Wish. He also granted the foundation’s 1,000th wish back in 2012.

Inside the ring, Cena is a 13-time WWE Champion, three-time World Heavyweight Champion, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, two-time World Tag Team champion, five-time US Champion, two-time Royal Rumble match winner, and a 10-time Slammy Award Winner.

He is also tied with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps grant wishes for children aged two to 18 who have critical illnesses. The non-profit organization provides children the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrities, go to an event of their choice or grant a gift to someone else.

In 1980 a seven-year-old child Chris Greicius, who had been diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier, was granted a wish to be a policeman for a day by an officer he had befriended in Arizona.

The story inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which granted its first official wish to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar in 1981.


Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha
  • The defeat came in the side’s second-ever international match on home soil

The Saudi women’s national football team on Wednesday night lost 4-2 to Bhutan in their second-ever international on home soil.

The defeat at Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium in Abha came four days after Monika Staab’s team had drawn 3-3 against Bhutan at the same venue.

The visitors broke the deadlock on 22 minutes through Shereng Yangdin before the same player doubled the lead only seven minutes later to leave the Saudis trailing 2-0 at the break.

Saudi Arabia reduced the deficit from a penalty by Maryam Al-Tamimi eight minutes into the second half, but Bhutan restored their two-goal lead as Yangdin completed her hat trick with another spot kick six minutes later.

Staab made several substitutions to raise her team’s tempo, but Bhutan asserted their dominance with a fourth goal on 68 minutes. Saudi star Al-Bandari Mubarak did manage to pull one goal back in the 72nd minute but there would be no addition to the scoreline as Bhutan ran out 4-2 winners.

The double-header of matches against Bhutan over the last five days marked the first matches the Saudi women’s team have played in the Kingdom, having previously played only two internationals, against the Seychelles and Maldives in February.


Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam
  • 150,000 visitors expected in next 12 months, with over 250,000 in the following period
  • Jeddah’s ‘Dome’ expected toward the end of 2022

DAMMAM: The Saudi Sports for All Federation is set to open a multipurpose sports facility in Dammam this month, among several “Domes” to be launched across the country over the coming years.

Supported by the Ministry of Sports and the Quality of Life Program, the state-of-the-art facility has been set up to empower people in communities across the Kingdom by providing greater access to world-class sports and fitness resources.

Marking the launch of the new dome, the Saudi Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, said: “We are very pleased, and praise be to Allah, on the implementation of such sports projects in the Kingdom. The facilities embody the unlimited support that the leadership of this country provides to the sports sector. The opening of the domes reflects the level of achievement, development, and prosperity required to achieve the Vision 2030 objectives.”

“The Ministry of Sports is working hard to contribute to implementing the Quality of Life Program initiatives, which reflects the wise leadership’s vision in creating the right environment to improve the lifestyles of people across the Kingdom,” he added. “The facilities will enhance participation in cultural, recreational, and sporting activities that help people lead healthier lives, create jobs, promote investment opportunities, and diversify economic activity.”

The opening ceremony, in advance of the doors opening later September, was attended by the President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, Deputy Minister of Sports Badr bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, Managing Director of the Saudi Sports for All Federation Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini and several other dignitaries.

The inaugural SFA Dome will support the growth and development of sports and physical activity in the Eastern Province. Housing up to nine courts and facilities, it will cater for basketball, volleyball, tennis, five-a-side football, handball, and table tennis.

Individuals and groups can book facilities at the SFA Dome through the SFA App.

The multipurpose destination is also fully equipped to host corporate events, community programs, and educational engagements that promote sports development — such as inter-school, inter-university, and federation events.

Prince Khaled said: “We are proud to see so much enthusiasm in Dammam around the launch of the SFA Dome, the first purpose-built facility meant to bring us all closer to our goals of health and wellness. This venue is for you, your space to thrive, and we’ve launched it as part of our mission to create curated opportunities and well-designed spaces that put health and well-being first on the agenda.”

“The launch of the SFA dome marks another significant step towards enhancing the Kingdom’s wellness infrastructure for all society, its world-class features contributing to the development of the country’s ever-growing lifestyle and leisure landscape,” Prince Khaled said.

Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Bakr, CEO of the Quality of Life Program, said: “We are pleased to support the opening of the SFA Dome in Dammam: A world-class offering that will enhance our work to empower more people of all ages to practice sports. Through the launch of such modern and community focused projects, we aim to inspire an active, sports-loving generation of Saudi citizens and residents — a community of happy, healthy, and productive people that contribute to the ongoing development of Saudi society.”

The SFA expects to welcome 150,000 participants to the SFA Domes over the next 12 months, with the figure rising to more than 250,000 the following year.

The next one is opening in Jeddah before the end of 2022.

The Domes are part of the SFA’s Active Places initiatives, which aim to create an enabling environment for communities to improve their wellbeing.