Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup

Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup
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The Saudi national team trained for the tournament at the Nova Equestrian Resort, west of Riyadh. (Supplied)
Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup
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The Saudi national team trained for the tournament at the Nova Equestrian Resort, west of Riyadh. (Supplied)
Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup
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The Saudi national team trained for the tournament at the Nova Equestrian Resort, west of Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 May 2023
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Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup

Saudi polo team all set for Mohammed VI International Cup
  • The draw has placed Saudi Arabia in Group 1, which also includes Morocco, the UAE and Argentina
  • The green will be worn by Khaled Al-Omran, Salman bin Haif, Rayan Al-Ajaji and the Argentinian professional Santos

RIYADH: The Saudi national polo team is all set to take part in the prestigious Mohammed VI International Cup in Morocco.

The draw has placed Saudi Arabia in Group 1, which also includes Morocco, the UAE and Argentina, while Group 2 is comprised of the USA, Egypt, Nigeria and Spain.

The fourth edition of the tournament will take place in Rabat and Tangiers, from May 22 - 27, 2023.

The Saudi national team’s first match is against the UAE on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. The green will be worn by Khaled Al-Omran, Salman bin Haif, Rayan Al-Ajaji and the Argentinian professional Santos. The team will be coached by Raul Moreno, also from Argentina.

The Saudi national team trained for the tournament at the Nova Equestrian Resort, west of Riyadh.


Saudi Games medalists awarded

Saudi Games medalists awarded
Updated 17 sec ago
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Saudi Games medalists awarded

Saudi Games medalists awarded
  • Athletes from across the Kingdom clinched medals in chess, rowing and judo at the Saudi Games
  • The award ceremony was held at Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex Swimming Hall

RIYADH: Vice President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Director of the Saudi Games Prince Fahad bin Jalawi has crowned the champions of the chess competitions.
The award ceremony was held at Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex Swimming Hall in the presence of Dr. Abdullah Al-Wahshy, president of the Saudi Chess Federation.
In the men’s classic category, Ahmed Al-Rehaili secured the gold, Mohammed Salahat claimed the silver medal and Ahmed Al-Thebaiti clinched the bronze. In the women’s classic category, Dalia Al-Semairi earned the gold, followed by Hala Shahein with silver and Asma Al-Jabri with bronze.
Prince Fahad also awarded the winners of the judo competitions held yesterday at King Saud University’s Multipurpose Hall, in the presence of Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Bassam, president of the Saudi Judo Federation, and Matthew Favier, CEO of the Saudi Olympic Training Center.

Three gold medals for AlUla in judo
Men’s judo saw AlUla sweep the 60 kg podium yesterday, with club members Mohammed Firaq securing the gold medal, Mutaz Khawjah claiming silver, and Mohammed Falatah and Ali Menwayi clinching the bronze medals.
Abdullaziz Al-Bishi, representing AlUla, secured the gold medal in the men’s under 66 kg weight category, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Nader Hazazi took silver, and Al-Ittihad’s Abdullah Al-Barkati and Al-Ula’s Mounis Hawsawi shared the bronze.
In the men’s under 73 kg category, Abdullah Hammad from AlUla claimed gold. At the same time, Jawad Srdidi from Al-Shabab won silver, and Sulaiman Hamad from AlUla and Yassir Ayyad from Al-Ittihad earned bronze.
Additionally, Nayef Mazio from AlUla secured gold in the men’s over 90 kg weight category, with Rakan Zidan from Al-Tai winning silver, and Abdulkarim Al-Bishi from Al-Qadisiyah and Amjad Fallatah from Al-Qilwah claiming bronze.


Al-Qadisiyah cycling team clinches gold
Following yesterday’s events, Al-Qadisiyah cycling team was awarded the men’s team time trial gold with a race time of two hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds. The team consisted of Faisal Suleiman Al-Shaya, Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Omrani, Youssef Bilal Bdadou and Badr Abdulaziz Al-Muhanna.
Al-Salam team secured a second-place finish with a time of two hours, four minutes and 23 seconds, followed by Al-Fateh in third place with a time of two hours, four minutes and 54 seconds.
The winners were awarded by Abdullah Al-Wathlan, president of the Saudi Cycling Federation, and Asmaa bint Jasser Al-Jasser, the federation’s vice president.

Indoor rowing culminates
Ali Hussein Reza, president of the Saudi Rowing Federation, awarded Hassan Qadri the gold medal in the men’s 2000-meter rowing competition held yesterday at the Mahd Academy in the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex.
In the men’s 2000-meter event, Hassan Qadri took the gold with a final time of six minutes, 15 seconds, Rakan Alireza secured silver with six minutes, 15 seconds, and nine millizeconds, and Daniel Rover clinched bronze with six minutes, 19 seconds.
In the women’s 2000-meter competition, Emma Merrick secured the gold medal with a final time of seven minutes, 23 seconds, Haya Al-Mamy earned silver with a time of seven minutes, 29 seconds, and Kariman Abuljadayel took bronze with a time of seven minutes, 33 seconds.
In the mixed team indoor rowing competition, Team One, represented by Paula Rodrigues, Alanood Al-Solahim, Khaled Al-Dawood and Abdulrahman Mahmoud, secured the gold medal with a time of five minutes, 45 seconds. Team Seven, represented by Bassim Al-Amer, Jude Al-Talhi, Muteb Burayk and Ghady Ahmed, secured silver with a final time of five minutes, 51 seconds.

Rugby Sevens concludes
The Saudi Wolves clinched the gold medal in the Rugby Sevens competition, which concluded yesterday at Al-Riyadh Club. The Riyadh Falcons earned the silver medal, while Jeddah RFC secured the bronze. Ali Al-Dajani, president of the Saudi Rugby Federation, awarded the winners.


Ub Huishan NE dominate day one of FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final

Ub Huishan NE dominate day one of FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final
Updated 10 min 12 sec ago
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Ub Huishan NE dominate day one of FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final

Ub Huishan NE dominate day one of FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final
  • Reigning champions from Serbia face Lausanne of Switzerland in the quarterfinals

JEDDAH: Serbian club Ub Huishan NE kicked off the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Jeddah Final 2023 with a pair of impressive victories to steal the show on Day 1 in front of a packed crowd at Jeddah Corniche on Friday night.

The reigning champions showcased their determination to retain the championship and remain unbeaten ahead of facing Lausanne of Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

The 14 teams from around the world who took part on the opening day of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final were: Ub Huishan NE, Miami, Liman Huishan NE, Vienna, Antwerp TOPdesk, Amsterdam HiPRO, Partizan Mozzart, Raudondvaris Hoptrans, Beijing, Ulaanbaatar MMC Energy, Lausanne Sport LS, San Juan, Paris, and Jeddah.

Before the basketball action kicked off, the audience was treated to a spectacular show marking the opening ceremony of the tournament.

The organizing committee also set up a cultural zone near the court to provide players, officials and spectators an opportunity to engage with others between games.

During the opening ceremony, No. 1 ranked Strahinja Stojacic received the Most Valuable Player award for the FIBA 3x3 World Tour 2023 regular season, voted on by a panel of fans and players.

The so-called Serbian “Dr. Strange” has claimed back-to-back MVP awards after the top-seeded Ub Huishan NE made one of the most dominant starts in World Tour history, winning six Masters in a row. Stojacic now has three MVPs in total this season.

The 31-year-old Serbian has made waves for his country as well, winning the FIBA 3x3 World Cup 2023 in Vienna, as well as the Europe Cup 2023.

The quarterfinal matchups are as follows:

Ub Huishan NE (SRB) — Lausanne Sport LS (SUI)

Antwerp TOPdesk (BEL) — Miami (USA)

Partizan Mozzart (SRB) — San Juan (PUR)

Amsterdam HiPRO (NED) — Raudondvaris Hoptrans (LTU)


SailGP returns to Dubai as season nears halfway point

SailGP returns to Dubai as season nears halfway point
Updated 09 December 2023
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SailGP returns to Dubai as season nears halfway point

SailGP returns to Dubai as season nears halfway point
  • A whole season of change in less than two months sets up highly anticipated UAE round

DUBAI: As the season approaches the halfway point, SailGP is set for a highly anticipated weekend when the league returns to the UAE for the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, taking place Dec. 9-10 at Mina Rashid.

The buildup to the sixth event of Season 4 reads like a script from one of the Hollywood stars involved in the purchase of the US SailGP Team.

Jimmy Spithill is out as a driver, less than two months after delivering the US’ first win of the season in Cadiz-Andalucia, and in his place comes Taylor Canfield for the team now owned by a consortium of entertainment, sports and tech leaders.

However, Spithill has since announced his intention to set up an Italian team in Season 5 and is remarkably still driving in Dubai, representing his home country Australia for the first time since 2001 as replacement for Tom Slingsby, who is on paternity leave. Slingsby’s Australian team increased its championship lead to seven points after third in Cadiz-Andalucia but have now gone five straight finals without a win.

While Australia has benefited from Spithill’s temporary free agency for Dubai, Canada has also swooped in amid the changes to the US team. After Chris Draper stepped down as wing trimmer for Canada, they pounced to get Paul Campbell-James, who has been involved in SailGP since its inception.

Phil Robertson’s Canada will show off another US recruit in Philippe Presti, Canada’s new coach, replacing Joe Glanfield who is focusing on his role with the British Olympic team.

The Dubai event marks SailGP’s first of many Race for the Future takeovers, highlighting the league’s ongoing commitment and passion to climate action with COP28 currently ongoing in the iconic city. The takeover will showcase how the league is racing for impact, innovation, inclusivity and clean energy solutions.

The event has made history already in racing for inclusivity with a first-ever all-female F50 training session taking place in the buildup to racing after the Switzerland team provided their boat. On the ground, there will be a host of innovative activations delivered for the first time, showing how events can be run more sustainably.

This includes a reduction of 36 percent to the on-water fleet, such as racing management and coaches, and the largest temporary solar array Aggreko has ever installed at an event. The event is also powered by 100 percent clean energy.

Sir Ben Ainslie of Emirates Great Britain SailGP, meanwhile, has been among a number of athletes to speak at the global climate conference.

“It’s great to be here in Dubai. To have this opportunity to race as the home team with our Emirates partnerships and to get to the grassroots and get more youngsters out on the water is a proud moment,” he said.

“You couldn’t ask for a more prestigious brand than Emirates and they have invested a lot into our team and in this event. If you look at their involvement with so many other sports, you have to say that they invest in sports and teams for the long run, and this is just the start for a long run in Dubai and hopefully having more youngsters out on the water here in Dubai and who knows, maybe a local team in the future.”


Next Gen Finals just the start for Saudi Arabia’s grand tennis plans

Next Gen Finals just the start for Saudi Arabia’s grand tennis plans
Updated 09 December 2023
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Next Gen Finals just the start for Saudi Arabia’s grand tennis plans

Next Gen Finals just the start for Saudi Arabia’s grand tennis plans
  • Building a lasting tennis culture and attracting more women’s and men’s events a priority moving forward, says federation chief

Saudi Tennis Federation President Arij Mutabagani cannot stop smiling as she reflects on the recently concluded Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah — the first officially sanctioned tennis tournament to take place in the Kingdom.

“I think I’m still dreaming,” Mutabagani told Arab News. “I have to say that Saudi Arabia made history with this event, because it’s the first event under the umbrella of the ATP (to be staged here).

“And I think to start it off with a next-generation event, it’s very close to us and it makes a lot of sense because our population is very young. So, this is the perfect way to inspire our young youth to start playing tennis and to get to know the sport.”

The sixth edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals, a tournament that features eight of the best players on tour aged 21 and under, made its debut in Saudi Arabia last week and saw Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic clinch the title with a high-quality five-set victory over French teenager Arthur Fils in front of a capacity crowd at King Abdullah Sports City’s indoor arena.

The feedback from all the players has been very positive, with many taking great pride in playing a role in promoting tennis to a new audience in Saudi Arabia.

“It means a lot. Seeing some very, very little guy in the crowd enjoying the show, it’s very nice and I hope they’re going to play tennis and be very, very good,” Fils told Arab News in Jeddah.

“I think here, they have good players, but they don’t have any elite players in the top 100, so I hope this is going to change. Let’s see what happens in the future, but if some young guys can play and be very, very good, I really hope to see that.”

 

 

Daniel Vallverdu, co-tournament director of the Next Gen ATP Finals, said the event had gone “incredibly well” and hailed the efforts made by the Ministry of Sport and the Saudi Tennis Federation to put it all together in a short time frame.

He added that opting to host the Next Gen Finals as the first official tennis tournament in the Kingdom was “100 percent the right strategy” as opposed to starting with a bigger event like a Masters 1000.

“When you start bringing big names, you have a strong impact right away, but if there’s not continuity to it, the interest drops and then basically you did it for nothing,” said Vallverdu.

“For me, there’s two components. The first one is the connection between the Next Gen and the young population in Saudi. I think it’s the right message.

“The second one is it’s a real partnership with the tour, which is what the federation wanted to do. You’re taking on an officially owned ATP event. So you’re working with the ATP to deliver the event; it’s not like you’re taking an event on your own and then you’re delivering a 250 or a 500-level tournament on your own with no connection to the ATP.

“Here, it’s a real partnership, which is a message the federation wanted to send, to show that willingness and idea to work with the tours. They’re trying to work the same way with the WTA and hopefully some positive news will come out at some point.”

Indeed, the Next Gen ATP Finals is just the start when it comes to the Kingdom’s involvement with tennis. The prestigious year-end WTA Finals is expected to be the next major sports event heading Saudi’s way, and Mutabagani said that there could be more in the pipeline.

“We’re still in talks with the WTA. Nothing is final, nothing is set. We’re trying to find what’s the best way to collaborate with the WTA; whether it’s the Finals, whether it’s other tournaments. We’re in great discussions and things are moving along. So, we’re very optimistic,” she said.

“We’re still hoping that next year we can have a combined Next Gen event with the females. So it would be male under 21 and female under 21. I think that would be great to inspire female tennis players here.”

There have been rumblings about Saudi Arabia’s desire to host a Masters 1000 event, but Mutabagani believes taking things one step at a time is the best way to grow the sport locally and foster a strong relationship with the major stakeholders in tennis.

“It’s a dream, of course, if we can get an ATP 1000. Everybody dreams of that — that’s like the top of the pyramid,” she added.

“But I think we’re moving slowly, gradually and building it up slowly. That’s the best way to go. And if it comes, sure, why not? But if it doesn’t, we’ll still keep going and hopefully we’re building this good relationship and long-term relationship and partnership with the ATP, with the WTA, with the ITF, so I think we’re in a good position, but everything has to take its time.”

Mutabagani deemed the first staging of the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah a resounding success, noting that getting the event off the ground and bringing the men’s professional tour to Saudi Arabia is in itself an achievement.

She acknowledged the low attendance figures for the opening few sessions of the five-day tournament but believes the event will attract a wider audience in upcoming editions, with Jeddah set to host the event through 2027.

“Yes, the attendance wasn’t as expected, but it’s only normal. It’s a new sport in Saudi Arabia, so that’s expected. And now we know what we have to do and how to promote it even better and how to encourage people by having different programs; the federation will work on them and promote tennis in general and put more light on it and kind of encourage people.”

Working on grassroots initiatives and building a healthy calendar of tennis tournaments at the junior and lower levels will be key for Saudi Arabia to capitalize on the Next Gen Finals and create a lasting tennis culture across the Kingdom.

“I’m pretty confident the passion for tennis here is going to grow but I know it’s going to take time,” said Saudi’s number one tennis player Ammar Al-Hogbani, who served as one of the resident hitting partners for the players during the Next Gen ATP Finals.

Al-Hogbani, who played college tennis at the University of Virginia, works with the Saudi Tennis Federation as the national teams development officer but is also keen on reviving his own playing career.

“Football has been king for so long so it’s hard to drive away the focus from that but right now there’s a huge push in other sports and tennis is considered a priority sport,” said the 24-year-old.

“So, we’re seeing different initiatives going on. We’ve implemented with the Sports For All Federation and the Saudi Tennis Federation a Tennis For All program that’s implemented into schools, so that’s getting around 30,000 kids touching a racket. It’s implemented in the curriculum. So, with that, there’s a big push.

“And then we had junior ITFs last year, I was the tournament director, the first girls’ and boys’ ITFs happened, and then two more this year in Riyadh. And obviously we had the first participation in the Billie Jean King Cup. So, Saudi is moving in fifth gear.

“I see it growing in the next five to 10 years; tennis is a medium to long-term sport, and also you need role models to look up to.”

 

 

Jordanian Abdullah Shelbayh was given a wildcard to compete in the Next Gen Finals, and produced some great performances before exiting the tournament with one victory and two losses in the round-robin stage.

Vallverdu described Shelbayh as “the highlight of the tournament” and his presence as a young Arab star in the making as particularly inspiring for the Saudi boys and girls in attendance.

“I think he’s been incredible,” said Vallverdu of the 20-year-old Shelbayh, who broke the top 200 in the world rankings for the first time last month.

“Obviously, to see someone from the region doing so well, it’s special; that’s what drives interest and participation. Of course, having someone like him, someone like (Tunisian star) Ons Jabeur, that’s a given that you can’t buy that. These players doing well is going to help federations grow the sport quicker.

“Having Abdullah here was the right decision. Thankfully, the ATP decided to give him the wildcard and I think it’s paid off really well not only for the event, but also for all the neighboring countries to have someone like him doing well at an ATP event here. For me, he’s been the highlight of the event.”

Mutabagani highlighted some of the plans and initiatives that are in the works, which would hopefully one day result in having Saudi tennis players competing at the highest level in the sport.

“Definitely, we want to promote tennis more. We’re working with the Ministry of Sport on developing more training facilities because eventually we will start hosting more junior tournaments at a lower level so our players can participate,” she said.

“Whether it’s ITF under 18, or Challengers or Futures, men’s and women’s tournaments; this way we start building the potential in our youth and eventually maybe one day we will see them playing one of these Next Gen events. Maybe not in the next five years but it’s good to dream.”


Fazza claim victory in Khor Fakkan Class 3 powerboat opener

Fazza claim victory in Khor Fakkan Class 3 powerboat opener
Updated 09 December 2023
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Fazza claim victory in Khor Fakkan Class 3 powerboat opener

Fazza claim victory in Khor Fakkan Class 3 powerboat opener
  • Team Abu Dhabi focus switches to Sharjah as Torrente aims for big finish to F1H2O season

ABU DHABI: Arif Al-Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi in Fazza secured victory in the opening round of the new UAE Class 3 Offshore Powerboat Championship in Khor Fakkan on Friday.

Starting from pole position, Al-Zaffain and Bin Hendi slipped down the field with some early problems but fought back to win by 17.41 seconds from Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori in Abu Dhabi 5.

Sharjah Team’s Konstantin Ustinov and Dmitry Vandyshev, who held the lead for much of the 13-lap race, finished third, ahead of Faleh Al-Mansoori and Mohammed Al-Matlae in Abu Dhabi 4.

Staged by Sharjah International Marine Sports Club as part of the Khor Fakkan Marine Festival, the first race in the new Class 3 series will be followed by further rounds in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

With the UAE hosting back-to-back powerboat racing events, Sharjah now takes center stage, and Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente has served early notice of his intention to win Sunday’s final round of the 2023 F1H2O world championship on Khalid Lagoon.

The three-time F1H2O world champion has already seen his title snatched away this year by Sweden’s Jonas Andersson but is focused on another big finish in Sharjah.

Torrente, who secured each of three world titles on the spectacular Khalid Lagoon circuit, recorded the second fastest times in both of today’s free practice sessions, as Italian Alberto Comparato and later Andersson set the early pace in perfect conditions.

Making his first F1H2O start in five months, Torrente will now look to use his fierce competitiveness to claim pole position in tomorrow morning’s three-part qualifying session.

“I’m going for the win, and at the same time, it’s all about learning for next season,” he said. “We’re looking to develop the boat and the program to be ready to hit the ground running next year and to make a big push.”

Team Abu Dhabi’s Rashid Al-Qemzi, stepping up again to F1H2O racing after clinching his fourth F2 world title earlier this year, was fifth fastest in today’s final free practice session after clocking the seventh best time in the extra session earlier in the afternoon.