Bol strikes hurdles gold amid shock Jamaican title double

Bol strikes hurdles gold amid shock Jamaican title double
Gold medalist Femke Bol, of the Netherlands, celebrates after the final of the women's 400-meters hurdles during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest Thursday. (AP)
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Updated 25 August 2023
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Bol strikes hurdles gold amid shock Jamaican title double

Bol strikes hurdles gold amid shock Jamaican title double
  • Bol made up for the disappointment of falling with the line at her mercy in the mixed 4x400m relay by producing a totally dominant victory in the hurdles in 51.70 seconds
  • Clayton’s bronze was one of five medals Jamaica won out of a potential 15 on offer in the evening session of day six of action at the National Athletics Center

BUDAPEST: Femke Bol struck gold in the 400m hurdles amid an unexpected Jamaican double gold rush at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Thursday.

Bol made up for the disappointment of falling with the line at her mercy in the mixed 4x400m relay by producing a totally dominant victory in the hurdles in 51.70 seconds.

“It wasn’t easy to forget what happened in the final meters of the mixed relay but my team was around me and they put me at my ease,” said the 23-year-old Dutch runner.

“I knew that 400m hurdles would be a chance to show up and I was confident. I have just had the best first 200 meters ever.”

In the absence of defending world and Olympic champion Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, American Shamier Little claimed silver, more than one second behind Bol, while Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton rounded out the podium.

Clayton’s bronze was one of five medals Jamaica won out of a potential 15 on offer in the evening session of day six of action at the National Athletics Center.

Two of those were surprise golds.

First up was Danielle Williams, who shocked the field to reclaim her world 100m hurdles crown after previously winning the title in Beijing in 2015.

“When I won in 2015 it was unbelievable,” said Williams. “But this took a lot of hard work, a lot of years of toil and injuries, and losing my confidence and battling to get back to this stage.

“It’s awesome, Jamaica is a proud country and we love to win. I love to win!“

Then came 21-year-old Antonio Watson, who also upset a loaded field including South African world record holder Wayde van Niekerk to win gold in the men’s 400m.

Watson, 21, produced a perfectly-timed effort down the home straight to win in 44.22sec.

“I am excited I managed to go home with a victory. I was surprised too!” Watson said.

“I did not have any secrets in my race. I just came and ran my own race. I am really proud I am bringing gold to Jamaica... it is amazing to win the gold medal at my first world senior championships.”

It looked like there might have been a third Jamaican gold in the men’s long jump, but Greece’s Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou went out to 8.52 meters with his sixth and final jump to push Wayne Pinnock into silver position.

Pinnock’s Jamaican teammate Tajay Gayle claimed bronze.

The second field event of the night saw Camryn Rogers win the women’s hammer world title to give Canada their second gold in the event at the championships after Ethan Katzberg was crowned men’s champion at the weekend.

Rogers took gold with a best effort of 77.22m, last year’s bronze medallist Janee’ Kassanavoid of the United States finishing second (76.36m). Kassanavoid’s teammate DeAnna Price took the bronze (75.41).

Newly-crowned 100m champions Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson both advanced into their respective 200m finals on Friday.

Lyles’ semifinal had to be rescheduled after the golf buggy he was traveling in with his rivals to the track had a collision with another one, leaving Jamaican Andrew Hudson with glass in his eye.

“I was directly impacted when a bunch of glass went into my eye,” Hudson said.

“They got most of the glass out. Now I’ve got to go back and have it looked at, make sure it’s OK. My eye is pretty blurry right now.”

Hudson was handed a spot in the final of the 200m despite finishing the semi out of the running for a top-eight spot. The track has nine lanes so can accommodate an extra athlete.

The incident did not deflect Lyles in his bid for a first sprint double by a male athlete since Usain Bolt in 2015, clocking an impressive 19.76sec.

Lyles is the two-time defending world champion over 200m and has said he wants to target Bolt’s world record of 19.19sec set back in 2009 at the Berlin world championships.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll get close to it,” Lyles told NBC. “I’m very confident in what we did. Today I ran 19.7 and wasn’t even really trying. I’m very confident in my ability.”

Richardson was equally at ease, albeit finishing second to defending world champ Shericka Jackson in her heat as all the favorites advanced.

Norway’s reigning world champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen put the relative disappointment of silver in the 1500m on Wednesday behind him to easily qualify for Sunday’s final of the 5,000m.

Olympic champion and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei was a late withdrawal, however, the Ugandan who won last week’s 10,000m pulling out with a foot injury.


Boxers arrive in Riyadh for historic 5 vs. 5 event

Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
Updated 17 sec ago
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Boxers arrive in Riyadh for historic 5 vs. 5 event

Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
  • The event is set to make history as the boxing world’s biggest promoters and British rivals, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, go head-to-head
  • The main fight card will see Russian champion Dmitry Bivol up against his Libyan opponent Malik Zinad

The boxers facing off in the eagerly awaited 5 vs. 5 event in Riyadh took part in a grand arrival on Tuesday night at Boulevard City in the Saudi capital.

The event is set to make history as the boxing world’s biggest promoters and British rivals, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, go head-to-head. Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season.

The main fight card will see Russian champion Dmitry Bivol up against his Libyan opponent Malik Zinad. The pair drew major attention on Tuesday night as fans approached them at the boxers’ arrival site for photos. Pressure is mounting on both champions to maintain their undefeated records across 22 fights.

On fighting in Saudi, Zinad told Arab News: “This is fantastic — this is a great feeling for me. I give everyone hope to work hard and nothing is impossible … work hard and you will make it.”

His opponent, Bivol, previously told Arab News that the event is an “amazing opportunity” to show his boxing skills to a new region and gain fans in the process.

“Saudi Arabia is still a new region for boxing events but they are doing it well, and I hope they continue doing it,” he said.

For Saturday’s undercards, Warren’s camp includes Nick Ball, Hamzah Sheeraz, Willy Hutchinson,  Daniel Dubois and Zhang Zhilei. Hearn’s lineup includes Austin Williams, Raymond Ford, Craig Richards, Filip Hrgovic and Deontay Wilder.

Arab News asked Warren about the prospects of a Saudi boxer one day representing Queensberry on the world stage.

“I don’t think it’ll be that far off … you look at the skill sets of some of them, look at them working out, you can see that they are really buying into this and into it in a big way,” he said.

“I promise you there will be Saudi champions not long in the future.”

Warren and Hearn’s family rivalry dates back five decades, and boxing fans around the world are bursting with excitement to finally see the two come together for 5 vs. 5.

Warren told Arab News that “Riyadh now is the capital of world boxing” and that boxing events in the Kingdom are “going from strength to strength to strength.”

He added: “I’m 72 now — I’m thinking to myself ‘I have seen it all,’ but I haven't seen it all. I’m getting surprised on a regular basis.”

Hearn believes that Saudi Arabia’s grassroots infrastructure and hosting of top boxing events is significant for building champions of the sport in the Kingdom.

“You go down the local gyms, the Mike Tyson gyms, you see young boys, young girls chasing their dreams because they’re seeing it on the ground here, you know, and you have to have role models — you have to have heroes,” he told Arab News.

“I think that you’re going to see great fighters come out of the Kingdom. It will take time, but the infrastructure is there,” he added.

Spotted at the grand arrival was Saudi pro boxer Ziyad Almaayouf. He told Arab News that fights like 5 vs. 5 “inspire young fighters like me to take the risks, fight the best.”

The event will not only be significant within boxing history, but also for its effects on each fighter’s career.

Ahead of the grand arrival, Wilder told Arab News: “This is everything for me. This could be the be-all and end-all for me.”

The boxers are staging public workouts for fans on Wednesday, and will take part in a press conference on Thursday.

On Friday, the boxers will undergo official weigh-ins before the big event on Saturday evening.


Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league

Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league
Updated 29 May 2024
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Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league

Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league
  • The city will become the home of UAE league matches

DUBAI: Expo City Dubai has signed a partnership agreement with the NBXL, the world’s first US-Middle East-based independent professional basketball league.

The city will become the home of UAE league matches and give it naming rights to one of four teams representing Dubai in the inaugural 2025 season.

The signing was a preview to the main launch on Oct. 5, when Expo City Dubai will unveil its team name, logo, key players, merchandise, staff and schedule. The announcement will also reveal three other teams, with entertaining basketball activities and opportunities for fans to meet and greet players.

With NBXL teams featuring elite players from around the world, UAE league matches will be played at Expo City Dubai with additional league games planned in the US and Saudi Arabia.

No stranger to the UAE, the NXBL hosted two days of basketball activities during Expo 2020 Dubai. It also took part in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 Dubai Schools Games Basketball Championships — an initiative by Dubai Sports Council featuring more than 150 private and public schools.

The partnership reflects Expo City Dubai’s commitment to boost the health and well-being of the community by actively engaging the public in sports, fitness and wellness events.


Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup

Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup
Updated 29 May 2024
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Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup

Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup
  • Afghanistan celebrated their stunning eight-wicket victory against Pakistan in the ODI World Cup in October last year 
  • They finished sixth, ahead of defending champions England who they also beat, stoking hopes for T20 tournament

KABUL: A young Afghan side with an average age of just 25 have vowed to give audiences back home rare cause for jubilation at the T20 World Cup after a breakthrough performance at the 50-over showpiece.
Kabul’s skies were raked with fireworks when Afghanistan celebrated their stunning eight-wicket victory against Pakistan in the ODI World Cup in October.
They finished sixth, ahead of defending champions England — who they also beat — stoking hopes for the T20 tournament in the United States and West Indies starting on Saturday.
“In the past when we would defeat a bigger team, our victory was tagged as an ‘upset’,” 22-year-old Sediqullah Atal told AFP on the phone from their training camp in the West Indies.
“The word ‘upset’ is no longer in the dictionary and we are ranked among the favorites,” the left-handed opening batsman said, insisting his team is “no less than anyone.”
Afghanistan has been through decades of war, but the country’s passion for cricket has never gone away.
“When you have the support of 40 million people and they motivate you, it is a feeling of absolute delight,” said 20-year-old all-rounder Nangeyalia Kharote.
It’s “a matter of great joy” to represent his country, though they must now “match the high expectations” of supporters, he told AFP in Kabul ahead of his departure for the Caribbean.
“The love from the Afghans both at home and abroad is remarkable,” Sediqullah Atal added.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), which manages the men’s team, has the full backing of the country’s Taliban government, which forced the United States and its allies out of the country before seizing power in 2021.
The Taliban rulers, yet to be recognized by any country, have effectively banned women from sports however under their austere interpretation of Islam.
Afghanistan’s participation in the World Cup therefore comes with some controversy, skirting the International Cricket Council’s rules which stipulate all Test-playing nations must have a women’s side.
The ICC has previously said the matter is “pending,” allowing Afghanistan to compete — although England and Australia have refused to play them outside the World Cup.
Despite decades of war and poverty Afghan cricket has strengthened, with new academies, sponsorship deals and tournament financing.
Their first match at the 2024 World Cup is on June 4 against Uganda in Guyana.
“Our team has arrived and are playing at a very high level in a short space of time,” cricket enthusiast Afzal Khan, who trains at the Rashid Khan Cricket Academy in Kabul, told AFP.
“They are our heroes, they will have a place in my heart forever,” said the 19-year-old, who hopes to fill the shoes of Afghan captain and ace spinner Rashid Khan.
“They have struggled through lots of difficulties to bring the team and our cricket to this level.”
In an interview published by the ACB last week, Khan pledged: “We will shine well in this World Cup too, and match the expectations of our compatriots.”
Back home in Kabul, another young cricketer in training made those expectations very clear. Naseem Khan told AFP “this will be the best World Cup for Afghanistan.”


T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
Updated 29 May 2024
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T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
  • The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs
  • The weather condition in England has jeopardized the T20 World Cup preparations for both teams

CARDIFF, Wales: The T20 World Cup preparations of England and Pakistan were further hurt after the third match of their warmup series was abandoned Tuesday without any play possible in Cardiff because of rain.
The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs in Edgbaston on Saturday.
The fourth and final match of the series is at The Oval in London on Thursday. Bad weather is forecast then, too.
The T20 World Cup begins on Saturday in the United States and the Caribbean, with England’s opening match against Scotland in Barbados on June 4 and Pakistan playing for the first time on June 6 against the US.


US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut
Updated 29 May 2024
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US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut
  • US earned debut spot at T20 World Cup as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies next month 
  • Cricket has curious history in US, lingering influence of colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence

FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: The US will make their debut in the T20 World Cup and while they earned the spot as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies, they are determined to show they can make an impact among the big boys.
Cricket has a curious history in North America — the first ever international match featured the US against Canada in 1844 but the lingering influence of the colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence.
The US has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1965 and frequently competed in the tournaments for non-Test nations.
But the Americans have never featured in either the T20 World Cup or the ODI version, with their only appearance in a major tournament at the 2004 Champions Trophy, where they were roundly beaten by New Zealand and Australia in the group stage.
Grassroots participation has grown over recent years though with thriving local leagues and the T20 format has been used to develop a stronger base with Minor League Cricket and Major League Cricket emerging in the past few years.
It is too soon for those structures to have had an impact on the national side but smart use of the qualification criteria has seen the side become increasingly competitive.
The team coached by Australian Stuart Law head into the tournament on the back of a 2-1 T20I series win over Bangladesh that has provided them with real belief.
The Americans won the opening two games before resting several key starters to provide some opportunity for their back-ups.
The US, captained by Monank Patel, will have to face giants India and Pakistan along with Ireland and Canada in the group stage.
The addition of former New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson has introduced some World Cup experience and top-class quality into the squad.
Anderson moved to the US in 2020 playing domestic cricket and — as his last game for New Zealand was in 2018 — he was able to switch in 2022 due to the ‘four year rule’ which applies in these cases.
Vice-captain Aaron Jones, who was born in New York but grew up playing in Barbados, says the American team is determined to make a statement in the tournament.
“We want to show everybody in the world that US can actually be a cricketing country and obviously be role models for the kids coming up,” he told AFP.
Jones is one of a number of players with experience of playing cricket outside the US and he has been impressed by the standard of the associate level nations.
“It’s just about getting the opportunity and obviously grasping that opportunity. Afghanistan is a really good team right now and they came through from associate. Ireland obviously came from associate. So the opportunity is there and we just need to really and truly take it and showcase our talent to the world,” he added.
Law has been able to work with a fixed core of players including pace bowler Ali Khan, who grew up in Pakistan and has played in the Caribbean Premier League.
Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 while Miami-born Steven Taylor has extensive experience in Caribbean cricket.
Jones, who was persuaded by Taylor to join the US team, rejects any idea that the US is in the tournament just to make up the numbers.
“We want to win games. We want to bring as much competition as any other team in the tournament,” he said.
The shortest form of the game does create the opportunity for more surprises and Jones believes his team are capable of producing some.
“We are a very good team. Obviously we showed that against Bangladesh, one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it an upset if we beat Pakistan or India. I will just say that we played better cricket on the day. It is a game of cricket. The bigger teams can lose as well.”