Mariam Binladen sets new record as first woman to complete 101 miles River Thames swim

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RARE FEAT: Mariam Binladen on her way to setting new record as first woman to complete 101 miles Thames River swim. (AN photo)
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PROUD MOMENT: Mariam Binladen does a lap of honor with the Saudi flag.
Updated 14 June 2016

Mariam Binladen sets new record as first woman to complete 101 miles River Thames swim

JEDDAH: Mariam Saleh Binladen, a dentist from Saudi Arabia, has set a new record as the first woman to officially swim 101 miles of the source of the River Thames in the United Kingdom.
Swimming to inspire more women to participate in sport and to raise awareness of the plight of refugee Syrian orphans around the world, Mariam is just the third person and first woman in recent history to have successfully completed the 100+ mile open-water swimming feat. Most recently this included the British comedian and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, who finished the swim in 2011.
Mariam’s marathon endurance swim began at Folly Bridge near Oxford on June 3 and finished at Teddington Lock in London at 1.05PM on 12th June. The swim was completed over 10 days and navigated 32 locks and some of the South of England’s most iconic towns and villages. Known for its strong currents and eddies as well as high pollution levels, the Thames is one of the most challenging and dangerous open water swims.
Talking about her successful swim Mariam said: “I am thrilled and very proud to be the first woman to swim 101 miles of the Thames. I wanted to show that a young woman from Saudi Arabia can achieve a lifelong ambition, while at the same time raise awareness to bigger causes, particularly the plight of thousands of suffering Syrian orphan refugees. I also want to encourage more women from around the world to participate in sport and show them that anything is possible.
“I have had the most amazing support from my coach Fiona, my support crew and my family in the preparation for this challenge. I would also like to thank all the people that came out and encouraged me along the way over the last 10 days – it was a great boost to be cheered on particularly when I was feeling exhausted after several days in the water. It was this support and my belief that ‘I aim and therefore I am’ which is about beginning with the end in mind — that has got me to the finish line today.”
Mariam trained for nearly two years to build up to the swim with support from her swim coach Fiona Southwell and family members. On Aug. 27, 2015 Mariam swam the Hellespont open water swim in Turkey and was the first Saudi
female to complete the race from Europe to Asia.
Mariam was greeted by members of her family at the finish line in Teddington along with a crowd of well-wishers. A film documentary of the swim will be broadcast later in the year as part of the profile raising program for Mariam’s causes.

Saudi Arabia eyes regular international tennis ahead of inaugural Diriyah Tennis Cup

Updated 20 November 2019

Saudi Arabia eyes regular international tennis ahead of inaugural Diriyah Tennis Cup

  • Top men’s tennis players competing in inaugural $3 million Diriyah Tennis Cup
  • Prince Abdul Aziz: We foresee the tournament growing and being part of Saudi Arabia’s future in the sport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ambitions to bring international tennis to the Kingdom onwards after next month’s inaugural $3 million Diriyah Tennis Cup.

Eight of the world’s best men’s players will compete for the three-day tournament at the custom-built Diriyah Arena – in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site – on the outskirts of Riyadh.

So far six names have been announced, including three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and current world number 5 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, with two more big name ‘wildcard’ entries to come, but already organizers are looking forward with the Diriyah Tennis Cup intended to be a springboard into having a regular place on the tennis calendar.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), said: “We want to host international tennis in the Kingdom every year. We want to demonstrate our capabilities in hosting and organizing a successful international tennis event of this magnitude”.

“Personally, I am very excited that we have eight world class players competing at Diriyah Tennis Cup, this is the start of a new era for tennis in the kingdom, and we foresee the tournament growing and being part of Saudi Arabia’s future in the sport.”

The Diriyah Tennis Cup is part of the Diriyah Season, an epic month of showcase sports events being hosted by the GSA.

World number 12, Fabio Fogini, who was the first Italian to win an ATP Masters 1000 title this year in Monte Carlo and former world number 7 David Goffin of Belgium will also be present in Diriyah. American John Isner, with over 10,000 aces on tour, and five-time ATP champion Lucas Pouille of France complete the current line-up.

Prince Abdul Aziz, believes bringing the Diriyah Tennis Cup will also help fire up its following in the Kingdom, and one day help the nation produce its own champions.

“Today we are keen to develop tennis in the Kingdom,” he said: “It is a well perceived sport and there’s a strong platform for practicing and playing competitively in many cities with such cups and contests. Bringing eight of the very best players to this first tournament Saudi Arabia will put our young talent, our male and female tennis enthusiasts, in direct exposure with global standards, and witness these champions up close and live.

“That will be a great learning opportunity for them as well to benchmark where are they now and to start developing themselves professionally to aim for these standards, and in future, be part of the grand slams across the world.”