Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream

Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream
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Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream
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Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream
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Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 August 2022

Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream

Saudi Arabian equestrian talent Sara Jedea eyes Olympic dream
  • Competing since she was 15, Jedea has had a successful junior career and has represented Saudi Arabia at several international jumping events in recent years

Riyadh: Training for the Olympics is a lifestyle, even if the Games happen to be six years away.

That is the mantra of Saudi female equestrian star Sara Jedea, who dreams of representing the Kingdom at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

It will be the culmination of an ambition Jedea has had since she started taking part in jumping competitions in 2009, at only 15 years old.

But having first started riding at the age of 6, she told Arab News that it is the journey and not the destination that counts — and this is what inspires her every day to represent Saudi Arabia at various competitions.

Jedea, who was born in Switzerland and moved to Manhattan, New York when she was 4 years old, said: “As a young Saudi in a big city, I loved going upstate as a child, where I rode and interacted with horses. That’s when I realized how special the bond can be with animals as smart and intuitive as horses.




Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18. (Supplied)

“Growing up, all my friends in America were into performance art, theater and music. I loved being with my horses and in nature. I found the same passion and expression in the competitive arenas as my friends did performing in theaters and concerts." 

While she was in school, she realized her heart was in the equestrian world and wanted to embrace the sport fully by dropping out of university and building a career in competitive riding.

Jedea has now been competing in horse shows at the national level since she was 18, enjoying a successful junior career. She was also hand-picked by the Saudi Equestrian Federation to represent Kingdom’s national team at a competition in the UAE in January 2020.

“Competing for me today is more meaningful than ever before. It’s a chance to present the tangible outcomes that Saudi’s Vision 2030 targets and continues to produce,” Jedea said. “Being a part of the Kingdom’s growth, I now ride with two main goals: to win and rank high for Saudi, showcasing what we have always been capable of, and to inspire other young Saudi equestrians to follow their dreams and become competitive riders.”

With her eyes already on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, she has entered many international competitions and produced some significant results in recent years: Champion of the Week at the 2018 Hits Ocala Winter Circuit in Florida; 12th place out of 30 at the Sharjah Ladies International Show in 2020; and third place out of 30 at San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy earlier this year, to name a few.

Jedea’s multicultural upbringing has prepared her well for a career that demands plenty of travel and interaction with different cultures.

Her father was a diplomat, so her childhood was spent traveling and riding around the world, including at horse riding summer camps in Sweden and Morocco.

She moved back to Riyadh during the pandemic and immersed herself in the equestrian scene there after volunteering at a private barn — supporting young Saudi female riders — and trained with Khaled Al-Eid, a Saudi Arabian equestrian who won a bronze medal in individual show jumping at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Jedea is currently based in Italy and training under Giulia Martinengo Marquet with her two horses: Lars, a Swedish Warmblood, and Fresco, a Hanoverian.

The road to Los Angeles 2028 is a long one, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Jedea to showcase her talents along the way as she targets her ultimate dream.


Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
Updated 12 sec ago

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics

Iran World Cup loss sparks despair — and joy from regime critics
  • Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany: ‘Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!’
  • Danish journalist Rasmus Tantholdt said that he was briefly detained by Qatari security forces after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement
NICOSIA: For Iranians, their football team’s World Cup loss against the United States was cause for either sadness or exuberant joy, depending on where they stand on a two-month-old protest movement.
Caught between the clerical regime and calls to show solidarity with protesters, the national team pressed near-relentlessly in the second half on Tuesday night but were unable to cancel out a 38th minute opener by the US, resulting in an early exit.
That prompted the extraordinary spectacle of Iranians cheering a defeat inflicted by the Islamic republic’s arch-enemy often labelled the “Great Satan.”
“Who would’ve ever thought I’d jump three meters and celebrate America’s goal!” tweeted Iranian gaming journalist Saeed Zafarany.
Inside Iran, celebrations were especially marked in western Kurdistan province, the cradle of a movement sparked by the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody after her arrest for allegedly infringing the nation’s strict dress code for women.
A video shared online by Kurdish activist Kaveh Ghoreishi showed a Sanandaj city neighborhood at night with sounds of cheering and horns blaring after the United States scored.
That goal also prompted joy in Amini’s hometown of Saqez, according to the London-based news website Iran Wire, which published images showing fireworks and sounds of people cheering.
Protesters also set off fireworks in Mahabad, Kurdistan, following Iran’s loss, according to videos shared online, while Norway-based Hengaw human rights group also reported celebrations there and in the city of Marivan.
The scenes of joy were not confined to Kurdistan province, reflecting the nationwide nature of the protest movement.
Videos on social media showed citizens celebrating in the capital Tehran and Ardabil, Mashhad, Kerman and Zahedan — many with people dancing and cheering in the streets amid long traffic jams.
It was a very different story in a hall in Tehran, where hundreds gathered to unreservedly cheer on their team — including women, in a country where they often have difficulty accessing stadiums.
“I’m so sad that Iran couldn’t defeat the USA but anyway we are proud of our national team and its players,” said Ali, a retiree. “They did their best and we are not angry with them.”
In Qatar itself, supporters of the US and Iran mingled cordially before the crunch game.
Crowds with the Stars and Stripes and the red, green and white colors of Iran’s flag talked largely freely as they entered Al Thumama Stadium.
Inside the ground, female Iranian fans sat — and often stood — proudly cheering their team without headscarves, some with the national flag daubed on their faces.
Iran’s players, after refusing to sing the national anthem for their opening game against England in a gesture of solidarity with the protests, reversed that stance for their second game with Wales, resulting in opprobrium in some quarters.
Players again voiced the anthem, albeit with little enthusiasm, for what turned out to be Iran’s final game.
They now go home to a country that remains on edge, as authorities crack down on the mainly peaceful protests that have become the biggest challenge to the regime since its birth in 1979.
After Iran’s victory over Wales, the judiciary announced the release of more than 1,100 detainees, including protesters, among them former national goalkeeper Parviz Boroumand.
Emblematic of the divisions, an AFP video showed scuffles breaking out among pro- and anti-regime Iranians outside the stadium after the US match.
The footage showed a woman wearing a T-shirt with the protest slogan “Woman, life, freedom” being harassed by Iranian men as she gave a televised interview.
A Danish journalist said he was briefly detained after filming pro-regime fans attacking supporters of the Iranian protest movement.
Rasmus Tantholdt of TV2 Denmark tweeted that Qatari security forces had instructed him to erase the footage but he refused to do so.
Iranian supporters have had run-ins with security for sporting clothing bearing images of Amini or the words “Woman, life, freedom” in Qatar which, unlike most other Gulf states, maintains cordial relations with Tehran.
Iran says more than 300 people have been killed since the protests erupted, but Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says at least 448 people have been killed by the security forces in the ongoing protest crackdown.

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026
Updated 3 min 19 sec ago

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026

John Herdman wants to remain as Canada coach through 2026
  • "You'll not find one as passionate who wants to take the country to that next level,” Herdman said
  • In the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Canada lost their opening match 1-0 despite outplaying Belgium

DOHA: John Herdman wants to remain as Canada’s coach through the 2026 World Cup in North America after leading the nation to their return to soccer’s top tournament.
“Eleven years of work in this country and I’ve been pioneering for a long period of time, and you’ll not find anyone as passionate as I am about this program or about these players or about this staff,” Herdman said Wednesday.
“You’ll not find one as passionate who wants to take the country to that next level. And you’ll not meet anyone that’s experienced this moment with this team — and the learning that I’ll take from this to take into the next one.”
In the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Canada lost their opening match 1-0 despite outplaying Belgium, then took a second-minute lead against Croatia before losing 4-1 and getting eliminated. The Canadians close against Morocco on Thursday.
Herdman, a 47-year-old from Britain, coached New Zealand’s women’s team from 2006-11 and Canada’s women from 2011-18, winning Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.
He took over the Canadian men in 2018 and led them to first place in qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Herdman was especially proud of the way Canada played against Belgium.
“Thierry Henry told me this team played them off the park,” Herdman said of the former French star, now an assistant to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. “I’ll take that, because if that’s our foundation, we got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”
Herdman sees part of the team’s mission as increasing the sport’s prominence in Canada. Alphonso Davies’ goal was Canada’s first in five World Cup games, and Herdman hopes the nation will get their first win against Morocco, which are contending for a spot in the knockout stage.
Canada will co-host the 2026 World Cup with the United States and Mexico, staging games in Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadian soccer officials hope this year’s World Cup and the build-up to the next spark increased youth interest in the sport.
“It’s those kids and those schools that will keep believing that Canada is a football country,” Herdman said, “because they’ve seen that Belgium game, they’ve seen Davies score against Croatia and they know we are — I nearly said it, yeah, we’re a football country. We’re there. And you can’t deny that. No one can.”


History-chasing Morocco want ‘no regrets’, says coach

History-chasing Morocco want ‘no regrets’, says coach
Morocco's coach Walid Regragui attends a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) in Doha. AFP
Updated 40 min 1 sec ago

History-chasing Morocco want ‘no regrets’, says coach

History-chasing Morocco want ‘no regrets’, says coach
  • The north African side reached the last 16 in Mexico 36 years ago for the only time in their history
  • Morocco are second in Group F, level on four points with leaders Croatia, who face Belgium, on three points, while Canada are bottom with no points

DOHA: Morocco coach Walid Regragui wants “no regrets” after facing Canada on Thursday, with his team aiming for qualification to the World Cup knockout stage for the first time since 1986.
The north African side reached the last 16 in Mexico 36 years ago for the only time in their history, and a point against already-eliminated Canada would see them repeat the feat.
Morocco are second in Group F, level on four points with leaders Croatia, who face Belgium, on three points, while Canada are bottom with no points.
“We don’t want to have an eye on the Croatia and Belgium match to decide our own fate, we (need to) give everything we’ve got so we have no regrets at the end,” Regragui told a press conference Wednesday.
“We’ll give everything we’ve got. Our players want to make history and will give 110 percent to ensure the Moroccan population is happy.”
Morocco players have been allowed to bring their families to the tournament and after the 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi was pictured in an emotional embrace with his mother in the stands.
“Before we got here we had a strategy meeting, to bring families with us or not,” said Regragui.
“Based on our experience in 2018, along with our technical team, we chose the option to bring the families.
“Some players have kids, some would rather have their parents with them. We did a good job in that regard. When you win, there’s no negatives, everyone is happy, but if you lose they will say — ‘Why did you bring the families?’
“We meet them after the game and then we concentrate on the next one.
“The spirit of family off the pitch, we want to bring that onto the pitch, and until now it’s functioning very well.”

- Making progress -

African champions Senegal qualified from Group A after beating Ecuador on Tuesday and Morocco have a good chance to join them in the next round.
“Senegal showed us a great path, we want to go through and move forward,” said Regragui.
“Morocco is my priority, Morocco and Moroccans. (But) we hope to fly the flag of African football high.
“Often African football has been described as sub-par, not as good as elsewhere, but we’ve shown we can give anyone a run for their money.”
Opponents Canada are playing in only their second World Cup and despite two defeats and elimination with a game to spare, coach John Herdman said his team have made progress.
They were unfortunate to lose 1-0 against Belgium, and scored their first ever goal at the tournament in the 4-1 defeat by Canada on Sunday, with Alphonso Davies sending them ahead early on.
“It’s an opportunity to keep stepping forward,” Herdman told a press conference.
“We’ll stay committed to our identity and go into this match with an opportunity to make some more history.
“We’ve been enjoying the ride and we know there’s not long left, the players are excited for their families, to try and step into the stadium and try to have one of those moments.
“We watched the celebrations back, we watched Alphonso’s goal together, to be proud of moments like that because there’s more to come.”
Canada will participate in the 2026 tournament as co-hosts with the United States and Mexico.
“We’re a football country, we’re there. You can’t deny that, and we will push tomorrow to keep proving that,” he added.


Wales boss Page urges team to learn from World Cup heartache

Wales boss Page urges team to learn from World Cup heartache
Wales' coach Rob Page reacts during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between Wales and Iran. AFP
Updated 30 November 2022

Wales boss Page urges team to learn from World Cup heartache

Wales boss Page urges team to learn from World Cup heartache
  • After reaching the knockout stage at the past two European Championships, Wales struggled in Qatar, with aging stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey looking well past their best
  • “It’s important they learn from it. We’ve had a taste of it, the World Cup and the Euros, and we want to continue to qualify,” said Page

DOHA: Wales will leave Qatar with mixed emotions — pride at reaching their first World Cup in 64 years mingled with a sense of bitter disappointment that they failed to do themselves justice.
Rob Page’s team, cheered on by legions of their “Red Wall” fans in the Gulf state, drew their opening match against the USA 1-1 but then fell to a 2-0 defeat by Iran and were outclassed by England on Tuesday, losing 3-0.
After reaching the knockout stage at the past two European Championships, Wales struggled in Qatar, with aging stars Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey looking well past their best.
“We’re disappointed because we know in a couple of the games we haven’t really shown our true colors and that’s probably the most frustrating thing for me and the group of players,” said Page. “They know that themselves. I don’t need to tell them that.
“It’s important they learn from it. We’ve had a taste of it, the World Cup and the Euros, and we want to continue to qualify.”
The coach urged a focus on the “bigger picture,” saying the experience would prove beneficial for his younger players.
“We haven’t got the pool of players that England have got and I think they’ll go on to do well in the tournament,” he said. “For us, it is an amazing achievement to get here.
“We’ve got to expose the younger players to these environments and hopefully then in future we can continue to qualify.”
- Patchy Wales -
Full-back Connor Roberts does not believe Wales, who beat Ukraine in a play-off to qualify for Qatar, did themselves justice during their three Group B matches.
“There were patches where we did show what we were all about but they were few and far between and it’s a little bit disappointing for a lot of the players, myself included,” he said.
The Burnley player said when the dust settles the Welsh squad will reflect on the achievement of even getting to the World Cup but said they wanted more.
“The next accomplishment for Wales’ men’s team will be to try and get out of the group at the World Cup, whenever that will be,” he said.
“We might have to wait a while, we might not have to wait too long but that is the next goal and it’s a good thing that football moves quickly. The Euros (qualifiers) starts in March and we need to take experiences and the young players need to learn from this.”
Bale, 33, has indicated he wants to continue playing for Wales, while Joe Allen, 32, and Ramsey, 31, have yet to comment on their future at international level.
Page said the shift to a new generation would “happen naturally when the time is right,” while Roberts bristled at the notion that the team were aging fast.
“There’s also a lot of people the right side of 30 and a lot of talent in that squad... we’ve got a lot of young players who can learn from this experience and hopefully take it forward,” he said.
One of those young players is Rubin Colwill, 20, who plays for Cardiff in the English Championship.
“It’s a great learning experience for not just me but all the younger boys to learn from the likes of Gareth, Aaron, Joe, Ben (Davies), Wayne (Hennessey), all the older boys,” he said.
He said Wales had traveled to Qatar with high expectations.
“You’ve always got to think the sky’s the limit really,” he said. “We wanted to get out of the group really. We knew it was a tough group and you’ve seen that on paper and I think you can see that now with the spread of the points in the group. 
“Obviously England being the big country didn’t really run away with it with the points either so it just shows the standard of the group.”


No comment from Saudi Al-Nassr club if Cristiano Ronaldo deal is a go

No comment from Saudi Al-Nassr club if Cristiano Ronaldo deal is a go
Updated 30 November 2022

No comment from Saudi Al-Nassr club if Cristiano Ronaldo deal is a go

No comment from Saudi Al-Nassr club if Cristiano Ronaldo deal is a go
  • Ronaldo became a free agent after recently having his contract with Manchester United terminated
  • Saudi deal would be biggest ever in world football, with Ronaldo earning a reported $210m a year

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo could be on the verge of joining Saudi club Al-Nassr on a world record two-and-a-half-year contract worth almost $518 million, according Spanish newspaper Marca, and other English and French media outlets.

Ronaldo is currently at the World Cup in Qatar with Portugal, who secured their passage to the round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Uruguay on Monday.

The move by the footballing superstar would be by some distance the most dramatic in the history of Saudi and Asian football, and would likely attract millions of new international followers to the Saudi Pro League and, potentially, the AFC Champions League.

Ronaldo recently had his contract at Manchester United terminated after criticizing club manager Eric ten Hag, management and players in a controversial interview with Piers Morgan aired just days before the start of the World Cup.

Rumors around the potential move began shortly after the start of Qatar 2022, but Ronaldo has remained tight-lipped, saying only that any discussion of a deal with Al-Nassr or elsewhere will have to wait till after the World Cup.

With no transfer fee for any potential new club, the 37-year-old Ronaldo would receive a financially attractive signing-on fee and $210 million per year from what could possibly be the last major contract of his outstanding career.

Ronaldo began his career at Sporting Lisbon before making his name with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, where he won three Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.

In the summer of 2009 he joined Real Madrid for a world record fee of around $95 million, and went on to win four Champions League medals and two La Liga titles at the Bernabeu.

In 2018, he moved to Juventus, where he won two Serie A titles, before returning to Manchester United ahead of the 2021-22 season.

He also captained Portugal to the Euro 2016 title, and is international football’s record goalscorer with 118 goals.

So far there has been no comment from the Al-Nassr regarding the deal.