Teens Popovici and McIntosh steal limelight with golden victories as Dressel quits

Teens Popovici and McIntosh steal limelight with golden victories as Dressel quits
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David Popovici of Romania celebrates after winning the men's 100m freestyle final at the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest Wednesday. (AP)
Teens Popovici and McIntosh steal limelight with golden victories as Dressel quits
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Summer McIntosh of Canada competes to win the women's 200m butterfly final at the 19th FINA World Championships Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 23 June 2022

Teens Popovici and McIntosh steal limelight with golden victories as Dressel quits

Teens Popovici and McIntosh steal limelight with golden victories as Dressel quits
  • Popovici, who had become the first Romanian man to win a world title when he took the 200m free, became the first man to do the 100-200 freestyle double at the world championships since American Jim Montgomery in 1973
  • The evening ended with another of the US team’s veteran stars, Katie Ledecky, carving a place in the record books with the winning women’s 200m relay team, her 21st world championship medal, more than any other woman

BUDAPEST: After Caeleb Dressel, one of the veterans expected to dominate the World Swimming Championships, quit the competition on Wednesday, two teenagers, 17-year-old David Popovici and Summer McIntosh, 15, leapt to the top step of the podium.

Dressel, a seven-time Olympic gold medalist, had “withdrawn for medical reasons. For his long-term health,” Lindsay Mintenko, the Swimming Managing Director for the USA team, told media at the start of the evening session.

“He’s just not fit to compete right now.”

Popovici then claimed victory in one of Dressel’s events, the men’s 100m freestyle, and McIntosh won the women’s 200m butterfly.

In the other individual finals, 20-year-old Frenchman Leon Marchand completed the men’s medley double in the 200m and Kylie Masse won a second Canadian gold when she took the 50m women’s backstroke.

The evening ended with another of the US team’s veteran stars, Katie Ledecky, carving a place in the record books with the winning women’s 200m relay team.

It was Ledecky’s 21st world championship medal, more than any other woman.

Australia took silver while Canada, with McIntosh collecting a second medal of the day, held on for bronze.

Dressel had already won two golds in Budapest before his last race on Tuesday morning. It was a heat of the 100m freestyle and the Olympic champion qualified only second fastest behind Popovici.

The teenager was asked after the final if he had scared off Dressel.

“I don’t think so, I think he is too big of a boy to be running away from someone like myself or frankly anyone but I hope he’s OK and I hope he’ll come back stronger.”

Popovici, who had become the first Romanian man to win a world title when he took the 200m free, became the first man to do the 100-200 freestyle double at the world championships since American Jim Montgomery in 1973.

Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband repeated the rare feat at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

“I’m glad we got to write a small page in swimming history,” said the smiling Popovic. “Some would say a huge page, but we like to keep it low key.”

“I’m glad to have got two golds now, I think it will be pretty heavy carrying them.”

Popovici edged Frenchman Maxime Grousset by 0.6sec and Canadian Joshua Liendo by 0.13.

“In the 200 I was surprised by how much I won by. This time I was surprised by how little we won by,” he said, adding he preferred the 200m event.

“I consider 200m more of a smart race,” he said.

In the two-lap 100, he said, “we have to go out as fast as we can and come back as fast as possible. It’s an animal instinct race.”

Popovic prepared for a career as a sports star by attending a bilingual school in Romania and speaks fluent English.

“I haven’t finished high school yet I don’t even drive yet,” he pointed out.

At 15, McIntosh is even younger.

The Canadian broke the world junior record as she added the 200m butterfly to the silver she had won in the 400m freestyle on the opening day.

McIntosh beat Hali Flickinger of the United States by 0.88sec with Zhang Yufei of China third.

“I just literally gave it my all and did everything I could, and put in all my energy and all my focus, and just stretched for the wall and put my hand on the wall as fast as I possibly could,” McIntosh said.

Marchand, who claimed the 400m title on Saturday, grabbed the lead in the breaststroke and held it on the last lap to finish in 1min 55.22sec, edging out American Carson Foster and Japanese bronze medallist Daiya Seto.

The second Canadian gold medallist, Masse, a relative old timer at 26, had won gold in the 100m backstroke at the previous two world championships and a silver in Budapest.

She has never won a major medal at the shortest distance.


Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
Updated 01 July 2022

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan

Formula E returns to Morocco for season eight, round 10 at Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan
  • Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne of DS TECHEETAH

SAUDI ARABIA: The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to Marrakesh on Saturday for round 10 in the 16-race season, with four drivers pulling ahead in the battle for the drivers’ title.

Going into the Marrakesh E-Prix at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan, Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne leads the way in the Drivers’ World Championship with a five-point advantage over nearest challenger and double champion Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH).

Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) is two points back in third place, while Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), who won last time out in Jakarta, sits fourth, but only 12 points back from the standings lead.

With a maximum of 29 points on offer in Marrakesh, any one of those four drivers could lead the championship come the chequered flag on Saturday,

Evans’ win in Indonesia squeezed the margins splitting the top four, with Mortara and Vergne also making the podium last time around to pile the pressure on points pacesetter Vandoorne.

Consistency is key in Formula E if any driver is to assemble a run at the World Championship. The Belgian has finished outside the top five just twice in nine rounds, though both Evans and Mortara have scored in all but two races this season, while Vergne has never failed to tally.

The Atlas mountains provide the backdrop for Formula E’s fifth trip to the city’s centuries-old Agdal district, with the first Marrakesh E-Prix taking place in 2016. The track follows the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan — named after the crown prince of Morocco — before spilling out onto the streets of Marrakesh’s hotel district.

Renowned for being an energy-zapping circuit, this fast and highly technical track features 12 turns, three straights and a series of bends completing a track length of 2.971 kilometers.

Last time out in Morocco was magic for Antonio Felix da Costa and DS TECHEETAH who dominated proceedings, with victory setting in motion a run to the 2019-20 championship trophy.

Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams) sealed the win on Formula E’s inaugural visit in 2016, with Felix Rosenqvist and Jerome D’Ambrosio taking back-to-back victories for Mahindra Racing in 2018 and 2019 before da Costa fired his season six title charge into life a year later here.


Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
Updated 01 July 2022

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia

Revamped Extreme E set for NEOM Island X Prix in Sardinia
  • Automobile Club d’Italia and Regione Sardegna co-organizing event

RIYADH: The countdown is on to the first-ever double-header Extreme E event, as the championship returns to the Italian island of Sardinia for a summer showdown of back-to-back racing on July 6-7 and July 9-10.

NEOM’s title sponsorship of the Island X Prix follows the announcement that Extreme E has entered into a multi-year relationship with ENOWA, NEOM’s energy, water, and hydrogen subsidiary, to introduce green hydrogen power to their global sustainable racing series.

Extreme E continues to showcase innovative sustainable solutions, whether they demonstrate the full potential of e-SUVs or deliver legacy programs at race locations.

The event will be returning to the Season 1 location of the army training area at Capo Teulada in Sulcis-Iglesiente. The Teulada will provide a challenging backdrop for the course, which measures around 7 kilometers.

Due to the hot summer conditions in July, the terrain will be much drier than last year’s Enel X Island X Prix, with the drivers having to navigate a harder, more compact surface riddled with rocks, bushes, and dry riverbeds cracked from the heat.

The purpose-driven message of the series will focus on blue and green carbon restoration in Sardinia, continuing to work alongside the MEDSEA Foundation (Mediterranean Sea and Coast Foundation) to support two significant projects.

For Round Two, the first project explores green carbon. The sport-for-purpose championship will be returning to Sennariolo to visit the communities affected by the devastating wildfires of 2021.

As for Round Three, the second project supports seagrass conservation,  mitigating the detrimental effects of blue carbon in Mediterranean waters.

Extreme E has been working closely with Automobile Club d’Italia - the national sports federation co-organizing and coordinating the event - the Region of Sardinia and its Tourism Department, the Ministry of Defense, and the Italian Army.


Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
Updated 01 July 2022

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan

Maldini signs new two-year director deal with AC Milan
  • Milan icon Maldini's new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side
  • Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game

MILAN: Paolo Maldini will stay on as AC Milan’s technical director after signing a new two-year contract, the Serie A champions announced on Friday.
Milan icon Maldini’s new deal means that the seven-time European champions will keep the duo who built their Scudetto-winning side.
Maldini worked alongside sporting director Frederic Massara, who has also signed a two-year extension, to take Milan from the doldrums to the top of the Italian game.
“This deal highlights the importance of continuity we see throughout the club as we continue to strengthen and grow,” Milan said in a statement.
The 54-year-old confirmed late last night that he had signed an extension after weeks of delays which almost led to Milan starting the summer transfer window — which opened in Italy on Friday — without their key men.
He has been critical in Milan signing some of their most important players, one such example being a now-famous meeting in Ibiza which was crucial to bringing Theo Hernandez to the club in 2019.
France left-back Hernandez was a stand-out player in last season’s surprise title win.
Maldini is one of the greatest players in Milan’s history, winning a raft of trophies over a quarter of a century passed entirely with his boyhood club.
He played over 900 times for Milan, winning the European Cup or Champions League five times and claiming seven Serie A titles before retiring in 2009.
That success was not replicated in an Italy jersey despite earning 126 caps, losing in the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 finals.
Last month Milan announced that current owners, investment fund Elliott Management, had agreed to sell the club to rival US fund RedBird for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).
Milan said that the sale of the club will be completed no later than September.


Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
Updated 01 July 2022

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract

Mo Salah ends speculation by signing new Liverpool contract
  • The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract
  • Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah signed a new three-year contract with Liverpool on Friday which will keep him at the club until 2025.
The Egypt international had entered the final year of his existing contract after negotiations over extending his stay dragged on for most of last season.
The 30-year-old forward’s wage demands had been a stumbling block, but a delegation flew out to meet with the player, who is still currently on holiday in the Mediterranean, and came to an agreement which reportedly makes the forward the highest-paid player in the club’s history.
“I feel great and (I am) excited to win trophies with the club. It’s a happy day for everyone,” Salah told the club’s website. “It takes a little bit of time, I think, to renew, but now everything is done so we just need to focus on what’s next. I think you can see in the last five or six years the team was always going (upwards).”
Salah has scored 156 goals in 254 appearances for the club since arriving in 2017 and has helped them win the Premier League, Champions League, Club World Cup, FA Cup and League Cup during that time.
“If I look back to that time when I came (here), the club were not winning many things but I think I told you I had come (here) to win trophies,” Salah said. “I think we have won good trophies together and I think we can do it again.”
Liverpool won the FA Cup and League cup last season but finished second to Manchester City in the Premier League and lost the final of the Champions League to Real Madrid.


Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
Updated 01 July 2022

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying

Saudi Arabia basketball team secure spot in second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying
  • Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s basketball team secured their spot in the second round of qualifying for next year’s FIBA World Cup with a come-from-behind win against Indonesia in Jakarta on Friday.

The Saudis were down by 13 points at one point mid-third quarter, but outscored their hosts by 16-2 to lead 49-48 going into the final quarter.

Despite a valiant effort from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia remained composed and saw out the game to seal a 69-67 win, which propelled them to top of their Asia First Round qualifying pool.

The Saudis can go into their preparations for the second round in style if they seal another win on the road when they face Lebanon, who along with Jordan have also qualified for the next phase, in Zouk Mikael on Monday.

Indonesia are co-hosting next year’s basketball World Cup with the Philippines and Japan.