IOC,Saudi Olympic chief meet, discuss women in Games

Updated 09 September 2014

IOC,Saudi Olympic chief meet, discuss women in Games

BERLIN: The International Olympic Committee has met with the new Saudi Arabian Olympic chief to discuss women's participation in the Games among other issues, amid the country's failure to send any female athletes to the Asian Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach said new Saudi Olympic chief Prince Abdullah bin Musaed bin Abdulaziz had made his first visit to the IOC last week and among issues of "mutual interest" that were discussed was women's participation, Bach said.
Saudi Arabia has failed to include a single female athlete in its 199-strong team for this month's Asian Games in South Korea, saying its women are not sufficiently competitive.
"We are in constant contact with the Saudi Arabian National Olympic Committee," Bach told Reuters this week. "You have seen that there has been a change in leadership and the new president paid his first visit to the IOC just last week.
"There, all the issues of mutual interest including women's participation were discussed," he said, without elaborating further.
The IOC is eager to have women athletes from all participating nations while also increasing the number of female competitors in an effort to have equal representation at the games. All sports must also have male and female competitions.
Last month, Saudi Arabia also failed to select a single female athlete for its team at the Youth Olympics in China, even though it had done so four years earlier when Dalma Rushi Malhas won an equestrian bronze medal.
Saudi authorities were widely applauded for including two women in their team for the 2012 London Olympics, a symbolic first for the Kingdom.
But just over two years later, the it has opted not to pick any females for the 17th Asian Games, to be held in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.
"We will be having women in Rio de Janeiro on a good scale, but not at the Asian Games," Mohammed al-Mishal, the secretary-general of Saudi Arabia's Olympic Committee told Reuters.
Mishal said Prince Abdullah, who was appointed chief of General Presidency of Youth Welfare this year, had discussed his country's plans with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"He doesn't like seeing them (female Saudi athletes) being always the last (place). He wants to do it right and he already communicated this to Bach," said Mishal.


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.