Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah

Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah
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Olympic silver medallist Pedro Barros puts Aljada Skate Park through its paces. (Supplied)
Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah
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HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, Vice Chairman of Arada with Keegan Palmer, Ambassador of Aljada Skate Park and Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, Group CEO of Arada. (Supplied)
Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah
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Crowds enjoy the professional street section of Aljada Skate Park on its opening day. (Supplied)
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Updated 29 November 2022

Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah

Olympic skate star helps launch Mideast’s largest park in Sharjah
  • Final phase of facility at megaproject Aljada was designed by Australia’s Keegan Palmer, the sport’s first-ever gold medalist

SHARJAH: Aljada Skate Park, the largest facility of its kind in the Middle East, has opened in Sharjah.

Located in the Madar family entertainment district of the Aljada community, the facility was opened by Australia’s Keegan Palmer, the skateboarding Olympic gold medalist, who designed its third phase.

Launched by developers Arada and spread over a 90,000 square foot (8,361 square meter) area, Aljada Skate Park contains sections for every level, from beginner to professional.

The pro-level phase of the facility contains design elements inspired by famous skate parks from around the world, including Bondi Beach and Salt Lake City, where Palmer has competed. This includes a large vert wall that can also be found at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo, where he won the gold medal in 2021.

“This is not only the largest but also the most challenging and creative skate park anywhere in the region,” said Palmer. “Aljada Skate Park is now a focal point for the growing skate community here in the UAE, and I’m very excited about the future plans that we have for this amazing facility.”

Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, group CEO of Arada, said: “Our strategy has always been to deliver world-class facilities to inspire residents and visitors to our communities, and Aljada Skate Park is no exception. We’re delighted to support this rapidly growing sport here in the UAE and will shortly be sharing our plans to put Sharjah on the map as a global destination for professional skateboarding.”

Among those who joined Palmer and Alkhoshaibi at the park’s launch on Nov. 26 were Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada, and Sabatino Aracu, president of World Skate, the global governing body.

Over the course of the weekend, skaters from across the UAE and beyond heard Keegan talk about his Olympic and Aljada journeys, as well as the chance to learn tricks at special clinics. In addition, another of the world’s top skaters, Pedro Barros, who won silver at Tokyo in 2021, also impressed the crowd with his skills.

On Saturday, skaters were able to show their skills and compete to win prizes during the Skate & Chill event hosted by California shoe brand Vans. The organizers gave away prizes for the best tricks performed over six sections of Aljada Skate Park, with visitors also treated to a festival atmosphere along with giveaways, a DJ, food and the opportunity to customize the brand’s shoes.

Special guests from the Gabriel Can Foundation, which aims to teach children diagnosed with autism to skate, were given a warm welcome with an hour-long event designed for them.

Spread over a 24 million square foot (2.2 million square meter) area and with 25,000 homes, Aljada is Sharjah’s largest-ever project. Since opening in early 2020, the Madar at Aljada entertainment district has welcomed over three million visitors.

The first phase of Madar contains the Aljada Discovery Center, the Zad food truck district, a free-to-enter drive-in cinema, a children’s adventure playground, an indoor events space, and an outdoor amphitheater. Scheduled to open next year, the second phase of Madar will contain a Wellfit gym — Sharjah’s largest fitness space — and a BOUNCE trampoline park.


Grizzlies clinch playoff berth with rout of Rockets, Warriors down 76ers

Grizzlies clinch playoff berth with rout of Rockets, Warriors down 76ers
Updated 25 March 2023

Grizzlies clinch playoff berth with rout of Rockets, Warriors down 76ers

Grizzlies clinch playoff berth with rout of Rockets, Warriors down 76ers
  • Eight Grizzlies players converted from beyond the arc and Kennard was the most ruthlessly efficient of all
  • Anthony Davis scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Lakers boosted their post-season hopes with a 116-111 victory over Oklahoma City Thunder

LOS ANGELES: The Memphis Grizzlies clinched an NBA playoff berth in emphatic style on Friday, with Luke Kennard leading a dazzling display from three-point range in a 151-114 rout of the Houston Rockets.

Kennard set a franchise record with 10 three-pointers — on just 11 attempts — as Memphis set a franchise record with 25 from beyond the arc.

Their 25 treys came on just 42 attempts. Eight Grizzlies players converted from beyond the arc and Kennard was the most ruthlessly efficient of all.

“It feels like every shot I take is going to go in,” Kennard said after scoring 30 points.

Desmond Bane added 25 points and two-time All-Star Ja Morant added 18 in a confident performance off the bench in his second game back from an eight-game NBA suspension for brandishing a gun at a nightclub.

Even against Western Conference stragglers Houston, it was an impressive display.

Most importantly, Kennard said, it was the team’s most complete game since his arrival.

“Playing hard, playing fast, communicating a lot better,” he said. “We put it together for about a 48-minute game, so it was a fun game. I love the way we played — we’ve just got to build off that.”

In Salt Lake City, the Milwaukee Bucks made 22 three-pointers in a 144-116 wire-to-wire victory over the Utah Jazz that preserved their two-and-a-half-game lead over Boston atop the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics kept the pressure on with a 120-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers while third-placed Philadelphia slipped back with a 120-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

Grayson Allen scored a season-high 25 points for Milwaukee, draining five three-pointers. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points and handed out 11 assists for the Bucks before sitting out the fourth quarter.

The Greek superstar took a hard foul early in the game and grabbed his right wrist — the same wrist he injured in February.

But if Antetokounmpo was slowed, the Bucks weren’t. They drained eight three-pointers — four by Allen — in the first quarter and Brook Lopez had four of his seven blocks in the first frame as they seized control.

Six Bucks players scored in double figures and Milwaukee dished out 42 assists.

“It’s a really fun way to play,” Allen said. “We were getting the ball up the court super quick today. A bunch of those possessions were less than five seconds — you get, like, three passes in and a good shot.”

In Boston, Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points – his 40th 30-point game of the season, setting a franchise record.

Jaylen Brown added 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Derrick White chipped in 22 points for Boston, who outscored the Pacers 32-21 in the third quarter and rolled from there.

Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner scored 20 apiece for Indiana, who are chasing the Chicago Bulls for 10th place in the East and the final play-in tournament berth.

The Bulls beat the Trail Blazers 124-96 in Portland.

In San Francisco, Jordan Poole scored 33 points and Stephen Curry added 29 as the reigning champion Warriors withstood 46 points from Sixers star Joel Embiid.

With James Harden sidelined by injury, Embiid had Philadelphia poised to hand Golden State a rare home defeat.

He made 19 of 22 free throws, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out eight assists, and Philadelphia led by 11 early in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors pulled level four times in the period before Curry got past Embiid for the go-ahead bank shot with 2:20 remaining.

In Los Angeles, Anthony Davis scored 37 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Lakers boosted their post-season hopes with a 116-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers, with superstar LeBron James sidelined by a foot injury, have won three straight and at 37-37 are level with the Minnesota Timberwolves for seventh in the West.


Alcaraz, Fritz, Andreescu advance to Miami Open 3rd round

Alcaraz, Fritz, Andreescu advance to Miami Open 3rd round
Updated 25 March 2023

Alcaraz, Fritz, Andreescu advance to Miami Open 3rd round

Alcaraz, Fritz, Andreescu advance to Miami Open 3rd round
  • No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka beat Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 and extended her record to 4-0 versus Rogers

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Carlos Alcaraz picked up a straight-set win at the Miami Open on Friday to keep his world No. 1 ranking over idle Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic is not participating in the Miami Open because he still cannot travel to the US as a foreign citizen who is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Alcaraz, who beat Casper Ruud in the 2022 US Open final for his first No. 1 ranking, defeated Facundo Bagnis 6-0, 6-2 to advance to the third round in Miami.

Rafael Nadal dropped out of the top 10 on Monday for the first time in 18 years. Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain, rose into that spot a day after ending Daniil Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak by beating him in straight sets in the final at Indian Wells, California.

Ruud, who’s ranked No. 4, won his match against Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-3. He’ll face No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp on Sunday in the third round.

No. 1 American and No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz began his tournament campaign with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Emilio Nava. Fritz is 17-1 in his opening rounds of hard court tournaments since the start of 2022, with his only loss coming at the 2022 US Open to No. 303 Brandon Holt.

Fritz will next face No. 24 Denis Shapovalov, who defeated Guido Pella on Friday.

On the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu — the 2019 US Open champion — came from a set down to oust No. 7 seed Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Andreescu improved to 2-1 over Sakkari, with both wins coming in Miami.

Andreescu will face Sofia Kenin in the third round.

No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka beat Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 and extended her record to 4-0 versus Rogers. Sabalenka will face No. 31 Marie Bouzkova in the third round.

No. 5 Caroline Garcia lost to Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3. Cirstea beat Garcia 10 days ago in the fourth round at Indian Wells, and will face Karolína Muchova next.

In other action, Varvara Gracheva defeated No. 4 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2; and Jannik Sinner beat Laslo Đere 6-4, 6-2.


Rahm ousted while Scheffler, McIlroy advance at Match Play

Rahm ousted while Scheffler, McIlroy advance at Match Play
Updated 25 March 2023

Rahm ousted while Scheffler, McIlroy advance at Match Play

Rahm ousted while Scheffler, McIlroy advance at Match Play
  • Rahm became the only top-six seed ousted in group play as Horschel never trailed in delivering the Spaniard’s second defeat
  • 16 group winners, 12 of them Americans, advanced to knockout rounds

WASHINGTON: Second-ranked Spaniard Jon Rahm was eliminated after Friday’s group stage finales at the WGC Match Play Championship while defending champion Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy advanced.

Rahm, a three-time PGA winner this year, lost to 2021 WGC Match Play champion Billy Horschel 5 and 4 at Austin Country Club in Texas, where 16 group winners, 12 of them Americans, advanced to knockout rounds.

Rahm didn’t make a birdie and became the only top-six seed ousted in group play as Horschel never trailed in delivering the Spaniard’s second defeat.

“To succeed on a hole-by-hole basis, on a swing-by-swing basis and just add those good swings up one after another, puts a lot of confidence in that tank that I’ve needed for a little bit of time now,” reigning Memorial champion Horschel said.

Scheffler beat South Korean 17th seed Tom Kim 3 and 2 to win his group at a perfect 3-0.

Reigning Masters champion Scheffler, who won the Players Championship earlier this month, booked a last-16 berth against US 43rd seed J.T. Poston.

“I’m just trying to go out and hit good shots, keep doing what I’m doing and executing,” Scheffler said. “I’ve seen some good results recently and I’m hoping to keep that going moving forward.”

McIlroy, the 2015 Match Play winner, never trailed in beating US 20th seed Keegan Bradley 3 and 2 to reach the last 16.

The four-time major winner from Northern Ireland won the fourth and fifth holes with birdies and the seventh on a Bradley bogey then played level from there to start 3-0.

“As every day goes by... the more and more confidence I’m getting with it, which is great,” McIlroy said.

“I struck the ball well and sort of got up early, kept pressure on Keegan. It was nice to get through to the weekend.”

Next for McIlroy is Australian 46th seed Lucas Herbert, who never trailed in beating US 62nd seed Ben Griffin 3&1 to finish 3-0.

Herbert sank a 20-foot eagle putt at the par-5 16th and a 17-foot birdie at the par-3 17th to advance.

US 59th seed Matt Kuchar, the oldest entrant at 44, routed South Korea’s Kim Si-woo 7 and 6 to advance. The 2013 Match Play champion equaled the event record set by Tiger Woods with his 36th match win.

“To tie Tiger’s mark, I don’t know if I have words to put that into perspective,” Kuchar said. “I’m hugely proud, grateful, kind of shellshocked to be in the same sentence with him.”

Kuchar, into the round of 16 for a record ninth time, will next face Australian 32nd seed Jason Day, the 2014 and 2016 winner who beat US two-time major champion Collin Morikawa 4 and 3 to stay perfect.

“He just tied Tiger’s record so that just shows how difficult he is to beat,” Day said of Kuchar. “If he has a good day on the greens it’s going to be difficult to beat him.”

Kuchar was among four lowest group seeds to advance.

US fourth seed Patrick Cantlay also made a 3-0 start, edging compatriot Brian Harman 2and 1 to book a last-16 date with US 13th seed Sam Burns, who reached 3-0 by closing with back-to-back birdies to beat Irishman Seamus Power 2 up.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, forfeited his match against US fifth seed Max Homa with a stiff neck, advancing the unbeaten American into the last 16.

Unbeaten US 61st seed J.J. Spaun birdied the last four holes to rally past Australian Min Woo Lee 2 and 1 and book a last-16 date with reigning Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, the US sixth seed who sank a 13-foot birdie putt at 18 to edge Tom Hoge 1 up and stay perfect.

Kurt Kitayama, who won three weeks ago at Bay Hill, won a three-man playoff to reach a last-16 date with fellow American Andrew Putnam.


Mane scores on return to action with Senegal

Mane scores on return to action with Senegal
Updated 25 March 2023

Mane scores on return to action with Senegal

Mane scores on return to action with Senegal
  • Mohamed Salah netted Egypt’s opener in a 2-0 win over Malawi

CAPE TOWN, South Africa: Sadio Mane put his World Cup disappointment behind him by scoring on his return to international action as Senegal swept past Mozambique 5-1 in African Cup of Nations qualifying on Friday.

Mane darted behind the defense to poke home a pass by Youssouf Sabaly with his left foot for the reigning African champion’s second goal in Dakar.

Mohamed Salah netted Egypt’s opener in a 2-0 win over Malawi.

And there was also a successful return for Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller, who scored to help his country beat Comoros 3-1 in his first international since his comeback after receiving treatment for testicular cancer.

Mane smiled as he celebrated his goal with teammates, who had to do without their star player at the World Cup last year after he was injured just before the tournament.

Without Mane, Senegal was knocked out by England in the round of 16 at the World Cup. But the convincing win over Mozambique, Mane’s first game for Senegal since before the World Cup, kept the Cup of Nations titleholder at the top of Group L with three wins from three and on course to qualify for the continental championship next year in Ivory Coast.

Sabaly scored the first goal in the ninth minute, Mane made it two in the 16th, and Iliman Ndiaye and Boulaye Dia ensured Senegal led 4-0 at halftime. Habib Diallo sent a diving header in for the fifth with two minutes to go.

Gildo Vilanculos got Mozambique’s only goal when he headed a parry by Alfred Gomis straight back past the Senegal goalkeeper to make it 4-1 early in the second half.

Senegal didn’t allow that to threaten its dominance and controlled the rest of the game, with Mane at one point urging his team not to settle for 4-1 and go forward in search of more goals. Diallo eventually delivered one.

Salah took his goal with a first-time shot from a cross in the 20th minute to give Egypt the lead against Malawi in Cairo. Omar Marmoush was credited with the second but his low shot took a wicked deflection off a Malawi defender and looped over goalkeeper Charles Thom.

Egypt had 21 shots to Malawi’s five and 75 percent possession, and the win revived the record seven-time African champion’s qualifying campaign after it lost to Ethiopia in the last round to slip to the bottom of Group D on goal difference.

Earlier Friday, Nigeria struggled to a 1-0 loss at home to Guinea-Bissau, ending the Super Eagles’ winning start to qualifying and seeing Guinea-Bissau take top spot in Group A. Nigeria aare still in position to qualify for the African Cup as the top two teams from each group qualify.

South Africa cruised to a 2-0 lead over Liberia with a double by striker Lyle Foster, but Liberia fought back for a draw with Mohammed Sangare’s equalizer coming in injury time at Soccer City in Soweto. That hurt South Africa’s hopes of qualifying and deeply frustrated coach Hugo Broos, who walked out of a news conference after telling reporters he wouldn’t answer any of their questions.

“There is too much disappointment, too much frustration, too much anger in my body,” Broos said. “If I should say now what I think, it would not be nice.”
 


Mbappe delivers for France again in first game as captain

Mbappe delivers for France again in first game as captain
Updated 25 March 2023

Mbappe delivers for France again in first game as captain

Mbappe delivers for France again in first game as captain
  • Romelu Lukaku underlined his enduring value to Belgium by scoring all three goals in a 3-0 win at Sweden in the other notable victory on Friday

PARIS: Kylian Mbappe delivered for France again, this time wearing the captain’s armband.

Leading a new era for Les Bleus, there was something very familiar about the way Mbappe slotted home two unforgiving finishes to headline a 4-0 win over the Netherlands in European Championship qualifying on Friday.

France showed no lasting effects from that painful penalty-shootout loss to Argentina in the World Cup final three months ago. Nor did Mbappe, the scorer of a hat trick in a losing cause that day.

One of his first touches against the Dutch was to slip a pass inside for Antoine Griezmann, his hair dyed pink, to finish first time for the opening goal inside two minutes at the Stade de France. The two stars embraced, showing there was no lingering feud after Griezmann — the more experienced of the pair — was overlooked for the captaincy in favor of Mbappe following Hugo Lloris’ retirement.

Dayot Upamecano bundled in the second in the eighth minute, and the third goal in a dazzling opening 20 minutes by France was scored by Mbappe. He ran in behind the Netherlands defense and shot inside the near post after Randal Kolo Muani let a pass from Aurelien Tchouaméni roll past him.

Mbappe completed the thrashing in the 88th with a solo goal, picking up the ball 40 meters out and producing a series of feints on the edge of the area before blasting a low shot beyond goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

It took the Paris Saint-Germain striker onto 38 international goals, above Karim Benzema into fifth place on France’s all-time list. While Benzema’s time might be up for the national team, Mbappe — aged 24 and the leader of the new wave of soccer superstars after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — is really only getting started.

Speaking of starts, this was a disappointing way for Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman to begin his second spell in charge of the team. Robbed of key midfielder Frenkie de Jong because of injury and five players during the week because of a flu virus, the Dutch were swarmed all over in a one-sided Group B game as qualifying for Euro 2024 continued.

Their misery was complete when Memphis Depay had a penalty saved by France goalkeeper Mike Maignan with virtually the last kick of the match.

Lukaku hat trick

Romelu Lukaku underlined his enduring value to Belgium by scoring all three goals in a 3-0 win at Sweden in the other notable victory on Friday.

It was a successful start to Domenico Tedesco’s tenure as coach of Belgium, which is also playing under a new captain in Kevin De Bruyne.

Tedesco will know the importance of having Lukaku healthy if the Red Devils are to finally win an international trophy.

The striker wasn’t fully fit at the World Cup and that was a big reason why Belgium went out in the group stage. Lukaku has been playing regularly for Inter Milan since then, and was a constant threat against Sweden as he scored in the 35th, 49th and 83rd minutes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s 41-year-old striker, came off the bench for his first national team appearance in nearly a year and had a couple of chances to score.

Loss for Lewandowski

Euro 2024 could be the last major international tournament for 34-year-old Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, though Poland’s bid to make it to Germany got off to a sticky start.

Poland lost 3-1 at the Czech Republic, which went ahead when Ladislav Krejcí scored after 27 seconds — the earliest goal netted by the national team in its history.

Tomas Cvancara and Jan Kuchta also were on target for the Czechs as Lewandowski was kept scoreless in the Group E game.

Austria beat Azerbaijan 4-1 in the group containing Belgium and Sweden, with on-loan Manchester United midfielder Marcel Sabitzer scoring twice, and Greece won at Gibraltar 3-0 in France’s group.

There were wins for Serbia (2-0 at home to Lithuania) and Montenegro (1-0 at Bulgaria) in Group G.