Saudi sports minister, motorsport chief welcome drivers and teams ahead of Dakar Rally

The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
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The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
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The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
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The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
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The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 January 2024
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Saudi sports minister, motorsport chief welcome drivers and teams ahead of Dakar Rally

Saudi sports minister, motorsport chief welcome drivers and teams ahead of Dakar Rally
  • The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s sports minister and the head of the Saudi motorsport federation have welcomed drivers and teams ahead of the Dakar Rally, which starts on Friday.

The fifth edition of the famous race to be held in the Kingdom runs until Jan. 19, with nearly 800 drivers and riders representing 72 countries taking on the grueling 7,800-km course.

“With the beginning of the new year, we continue to host the most important and largest global sports events in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thanks to the great interest and support from the leadership of this great nation and the generous support of the crown prince to the sports sector in general,” Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said.

Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, also welcomed the drivers and expressed his pride in the continuous hosting of the rally in the Kingdom, which he said reflected the great attention the Saudi leadership gives to the sports sector. 

France will have the highest representation with 163 participants, followed by Spain with 119 participants, and Italy with 72 participants in all rally categories.

Additionally, 135 participants will compete for the first time and the race will also feature 46 women, including 34 in the Dakar Classic category. 

The rally consists of 12 stages and one preliminary stage, all spanning 15 days. After the start in AlUla, drivers and riders will pass through many cities in the Kingdom, including Riyadh, Hail and Al-Hofuf.


Allen Iverson immortalized with sculpture alongside 76ers greats Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain

Allen Iverson immortalized with sculpture alongside 76ers greats Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain
Updated 13 April 2024
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Allen Iverson immortalized with sculpture alongside 76ers greats Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain

Allen Iverson immortalized with sculpture alongside 76ers greats Julius Erving and Wilt Chamberlain
  • Few played better in the games for the Sixers than Iverson, who won four scoring titles, an NBA MVP award, and led the franchise to their last trip to the NBA finals in 2001
  • Iverson was feted with a ceremony that nearly rivaled his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction

CAMDEN, New Jersey: Yes, there is something quite wry about the fact Allen Iverson was immortalized in his crossover pose at — of all sites — the Philadelphia 76ers’ practice facility.

Practice. Not where the Sixers play their games. Practice.

Almost 22 years after AI ranted about “practice” 22 times in an often-spoofed news conference — see, Ted Lasso — even Iverson got a kick out the location of the sculpture unveiled Friday on the team’s Legends Walk, joining the likes of Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Charles Barkley and Maurice Cheeks. The Hall of Famer who made ” talking about practice ” a permanent part of the pop-culture lexicon is now a permanent part of the Sixers’ home.

“I could sit out a practice,” Iverson said after the ceremony. “Play me in the games.”

Few played better in the games for the Sixers than Iverson, who won four scoring titles, an NBA MVP award, and led the franchise to their last trip to the NBA finals in 2001.

His numbers stamped him as one of the NBA’s greats.

His legacy stretched beyond the court, the undersized guard with the supersized heart making the hip-hop element cool in the NBA with his braids, his tattoos, his throwback jerseys — heck, the NBA even instituted a dress code in large part to wipe out Iverson’s influence. His dogged style of play has been emulated to this day by everyone from Russell Westbrook to Ja Morant to even Philly’s own All-Star, Tyrese Maxey.

Never, ever, though, duplicated.

Iverson was feted with a ceremony that nearly rivaled his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction. Former Sixers teammates and executives Pat Croce, Billy King, Rasheed Wallace, Eric Snow and Aaron McKie posed with and praised AI. Even retired NFL receiver Terrell Owens shot video of the tribute and snapped photos of the statue. Former coach Larry Brown — who famously clashed through the years with Iverson — was in the house.

“Me and Coach didn’t see eye-to-eye on things,” Iverson said. “But he wanted the same thing that I wanted out of my career and our team goals. Once I bought into that, that’s what turned me into an MVP basketball player. That turned us to a team that were winners, that could go to the finals and compete with the best teams.”

The 165-pound guard averaged 31.1 points in 2001, was the MVP of the All-Star game and propped an entire franchise on his 6-foot frame all the way to the finals.

Guided by Brown, the Sixers needed Game 7 wins in consecutive playoff series for the right to play the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers swept their way through the postseason before Game 1 in Los Angeles.

Iverson had 48 points in 52 minutes of an overtime victory. The Sixers didn’t have enough to go the distance and the Lakers won the next four games.

Iverson is still connected with the franchise as a team ambassador and occasionally pops up at a courtside seat and receives a roaring standing ovation each time he is announced to the crowd. Iverson complained last year that his role with the Sixers was “nowhere near what I think it’s supposed to be” but any unhappiness appeared to be smoothed over. Sixers coach Nick Nurse has invited Iverson to spend more time around the team to offer his voice in a mentorship role.

“They came up to me and said that they would love to talk to me about different things on the basketball court and I just love and respect that they respect me because they know I’ve been through what they’re going through at a high level,” Iverson said. “So I’m trying to have my voice be heard as much as possible. I’m doing a lot of things with the organization and I just think that I’m blessed to have that opportunity, to have that relationship with the organization after I retired.”

So, about that statue. Much like Iverson, the tiny depiction took a beating on social media for not being properly lifelike for a statue. But it wasn’t built for sizes normally found outside sports stadiums, but rather is part of a row of similarly-sized ones that line a private walkway that only players, employees and executives (and the media) can access at the practice facility.

“How do you think I got that good? I had to practice,” Iverson said. “I just thought it was a bad rap on me. One day I’m walking in the streets and people come up to me and say ‘Practice? We’re talking about practice?’ and I be like, ‘Man, out of all the things I accomplished in my career, that’s the only thing you can come up with?’ Crazy.”

Iverson wore a Roman numeral III chain (in honor of his retired No. 3 uniform number ) and other Sixers gear including a hat that read “LEG3ND” as he yanked off the cover of the statue. Iverson’s statue shows him wearing a headband and about to launch the crossover — a seminal move in his career that once bewildered Michael Jordan — with a basketball affixed to his outstretched left hand. Part of the inscription said Iverson’s “toughness made him unstoppable.”

As Iverson surveyed the friends, former teammates and family that included his mother that flocked to New Jersey, he could only choke back tears as he expressed his thanks.

“When you think about the statue,” Iverson said, “that’s a representation to y’all people that helped me. To every one that played a part in my development and in my life. When y’all see that statue, y’all could feel good about the part that y’all did in helping me with my life. This is such an honor, man. It don’t even seem real.”


Football’s brightest stars will bounce back, says Ancelotti

Football’s brightest stars will bounce back, says Ancelotti
Updated 13 April 2024
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Football’s brightest stars will bounce back, says Ancelotti

Football’s brightest stars will bounce back, says Ancelotti
  • All four quarterfinal first leg matches thrilled supporters this week but some of the brightest names in the game were below their best on the biggest stage
  • Real Madrid visit Mallorca on Saturday looking to extend their eight-point lead in La Liga before second-placed Barcelona play at Cadiz later in the day

MADRID: Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti predicted Friday that Kylian Mbappe and football’s other brightest young stars would bounce back strongly after disappointing showings in the Champions League.

All four quarterfinal first leg matches thrilled supporters this week but some of the brightest names in the game were below their best on the biggest stage.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Mbappe was frustrated in Barcelona’s 3-2 win in the French capital, while Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger shackled Manchester City forward Erling Haaland.

Madrid’s top goalscorer Jude Bellingham also struggled to make an impact in his team’s white-knuckle 3-3 draw with the English champions at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“Calm down, calm down, maybe in the first legs they were below their best, but new games are coming and watch out, watch out for the three (of them),” Ancelotti told a news conference.

Real Madrid visit Mallorca on Saturday looking to extend their eight-point lead in La Liga before second-placed Barcelona play at Cadiz later in the day.

Ancelotti said England international Bellingham, 20, was fulfilling his role, even though his early season goal spree has come to an end.

Bellingham has 20 goals across all competitions for Madrid but just three in his last 13 games.

“Bellingham’s goal output is down, but that was a surprise,” said the coach.

“He’s doing his job, which is more as a midfielder, but in a footballing sense he’s doing very well, not missing anything, just goals, which sooner or later will return.”

The coach said forward Rodrygo Goes, who missed training on Friday, would be fit to face Mallorca.


Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
Updated 13 April 2024
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Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
  • British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh

LONDON: An official song and accompanying music video have been released to promote the upcoming heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.

British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh on May 18 at the Kingdom Arena in the “Ring of Fire” clash.

A clip for “Can’t Lose This Fight” was shared on social media by General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Alalshikh on Friday.

“This is the fight that everyone has wanted to see for some time and now it is finally happening – the world’s two heavyweight champions going into the ring against one another,” Alalshikh said in a statement in September when the fight was announced.

“It is the biggest fight in boxing, the world will be watching, and we are so proud to be the hosts for this spectacle as part of the fourth edition of our Riyadh Season celebrations.”


Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
Updated 12 April 2024
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Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
  • Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan
  • Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory

LUCKNOW: Jake Fraser-McGurk smashed a half-century on his Indian Premier League debut as Delhi Capitals thrashed Lucknow Super Giants by six wickets on Friday to reignite their hopes in the money-spinning T20 competition.
Fraser-McGurk, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, shared a 77-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Rishabh Pant (41) to help Delhi overhaul Lucknow’s 167-7 with 11 balls to spare.
Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory from six outings.
Lucknow, who came into the match with three wins out of four, are now placed fourth.
“Spent five-six games on the sidelines itching to get out there,” said Fraser-McGurk.
“I’m so happy to be here, different world in terms of cricket. Never seen anything like it, to be able to savour eight weeks, hopefully more, is amazing.”
Delhi lost opener David Warner early with the Australian dragging a ball from Yash Thakur on to his stumps soon after he was attended to by the physio for a blow he took on his knuckles.
Prithvi Shaw (32) was caught brilliantly by Nicholas Pooran at deep midwicket off Ravi Bishnoi but Pant and Fraser-McGurk steadied the innings with their stand.
Fraser-McGurk, who went unsold in the IPL auction but came in as a replacement for Lungi Ngidi, hit Krunal Pandya for three huge sixes in a row in one over to underline his power-hitting prowess.
The Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan, but by then Delhi needed just 28 runs off 32 balls.
Pant went past 3,000 IPL runs before being stumped off Bishnoi for 41 off 24 balls including two sixes and four boundaries.
“We were about 15-20 runs short, we should’ve capitalized to get to 180,” said Lucknow skipper K.L. Rahul.
“McGurk was very unknown. We’ve watched a lot of videos of him but he hit the ball really well, credit to him.”
Earlier, Lucknow were off to a fine start after electing to bat but they stumbled after the powerplay, losing two wickets in two balls to left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3-20).
Yadav, 29, had missed Delhi’s last two matches due to an injury.
The slow bowler struck to send back Rahul (39 off 22 balls).
Rahul tried to slash the ball which was turning away and a Delhi review confirmed a nick.
Lucknow were tottering at 94-7 in the 13th over but Ayush Badoni top-scored with an unbeaten 35-ball 55 and shared 73 runs for the eighth wicket with Arshad Khan (20 not out) to ensure a fighting total on the board.
It was the first half-century this IPL season for Badoni, who hit one six and five fours.


ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
Updated 12 April 2024
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ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
  • Federation was seeking to promote camel sports globally
  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited pavilion

RIYADH: The International Camel Racing Federation has concluded its participation in the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit that took place in Birmingham from April 7-11.
The ICRF was seeking to promote camel sports around the world by being present at the event.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited the federation’s pavilion on Tuesday, where he received an award that was presented to the SOPC.
Prince Fahad bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, ICRF’s president and SOPC’s vice president; Dr. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee; and Robin Mitchell, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, were present at the award presentation.
Prince Fahad said: “We are pleased with what the federation’s pavilion presented at this summit, which around 1,500 leaders and key decision-makers from over 120 international federations attended.”
Participation at the event helped publicize camel sports which, according to the ICRF’s president, have a large role in Saudi culture and are a big part of the nation’s identity.
Prince Fahad added: “The federation’s goal through this participation was to shed light on the sport of our fathers and ancestors, which Arab countries have known since ancient times until it became part of their societies.”