For a cause: Mariam Saleh Binladen completes assisted English Channel swim

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Mariam Saleh Binladen after her River Thames swim feat in June.
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Mariam Saleh Binladen leaves the White Cliffs of Dover on Channel swim.
Updated 26 September 2016

For a cause: Mariam Saleh Binladen completes assisted English Channel swim

DOVER, England: Mariam Saleh Binladen became the first from Saudi Arabia to make a solo assisted crossing of the English Channel, the world’s most celebrated open water swim. Mariam took on the Channel swim as part of a series of ultimate endurance challenges to raise awareness of the plight of orphan children from Syria.
The story of Mariam’s epic swimming feats will be told in a film documentary ‘I am Mariam Binladen’ to be premiered in December.
Mariam’s Channel swim was ratified by the Channel Crossing Association (CCA) which permits swimmers to wear wetsuits and receive assistance to ensure a safe crossing. Mariam completed the swim in 11 hours and 41 minutes, setting off at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from Samphire Hoe in Dover on the south coast of England and landing at Cap Gris Nez in Calais France at 6:41 p.m. on Tuesday.
Mariam’s swim coincided with some unusually warm weather conditions in the south of England. Temperatures have reached record highs of over 30 degrees Celsius, last seen more than 100 years ago in 1911. In completing the Channel, Mariam successfully navigated one of the worlds’ busiest shipping lanes with up to 600 tankers and 200 ferries passing through each day.
Commenting on the swim Mariam said: “Completing the Channel swim is a dream come true and the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition. It has been an incredibly tough two years preparing for this, but I have learned that if you are determined enough to achieve your goals and dreams – they can and will happen. I hope that my achievements will inspire others whilst at the same time I hope to draw more awareness to the plight of millions of suffering Syrian orphan refugees.”
According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) more than 4 million Syrians have fled their homeland with half being children under the age of 17.
Mariam continued: “As a young woman from the Middle East, I wanted to use my endurance swims to draw more awareness to the humanitarian disaster in Syria and hopefully make some kind of difference to the lives of those affected, particularly the orphaned children.”
Earlier in the summer, Mariam set a new world record as the first woman to officially swim 101 miles of the source of the River Thames in the United Kingdom. The June swim was completed over 10 days, during which Mariam 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 well-known for being one of the most challenging and dangerous river swims.
Mariam prepared for the Channel swim for more than two years with a punishing physical training program supported by her coach and swim-mentor Fiona Southwell. Training included daily routines in the open water and the completion of several marathon swim events. In August 2015, Mariam swam the Hellespont open water swim in Turkey becoming the first Saudi female to complete the race from Europe to Asia.
Mariam was guided across the Channel by experienced pilot Andrew King, skipper of the escort boat and founder of the Channel Crossing Association. A film documentary ‘I am Mariam Binladen’ chronicling Mariam’s journey and achievements will be aired at the end of the year on Swiss TV.
Download a short interview with Mariam here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bUnBs1fAgk


Spanish striker David Villa set to retire from Japan club

Updated 22 min 35 sec ago

Spanish striker David Villa set to retire from Japan club

  • Villa scored 59 goals in 98 appearances for Spain from 2004-17, including five goals at the 2010 World Cup
  • Before signing with Kobe, Villa played at Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before spending four seasons with New York City FC
KOBE, Japan: Spanish striker David Villa says he will retire from Japanese club Vissel Kobe next year, ending the career of Spain’s top scorer in international play.
The 37-year-old Villa, who joined Kobe last December, said he plans to retire after the season ends in January.

“It’s better to leave football before football leaves me,” he told a news conference speaking in Spanish. “I’ve been thinking for several years — when you reach 33, 34 or 35 — the moment can arrive at any time in a game, in training, or with an injury.”

Villa scored 59 goals in 98 appearances for Spain from 2004-17, including five goals at the 2010 World Cup as his nation won the title for the first time.
He scored four goals for Spain en route to the 2008 European Championship title.

Before signing with Kobe, Villa played at Valencia, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid before spending four seasons with New York City FC, scoring 80 goals in 124 MLS appearances.

“It’s a decision I’ve thought about a lot,” he said. “I spoke about this with the people who care about me, with my family, and the people who have been with me for my whole career.”

Villa repeated several times that it was not a knee-jerk reaction. He scored 12 goals this season for Kobe, a decent scoring output for a struggling club. But he said he knew the retirement time was near.

He was asked about the quality of play in Japan and was laudatory.

“I was surprised at the level of play in the J-League,” he said. “Not only in terms of the veteran players here, but the young players here that have enormous potential. It’s not that I was expecting less. I was expecting a top league, but it surpassed by expectations.”

Villa has also mentioned his interest being an investor in a new club based in the New York area — Queensboro FC, which will play in the second tier of American soccer.

“Queens always showed love to me and my family while we were in New York,” he wrote on Twitter. He said it was “a dream to build” a new professional team.