Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

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Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. (REUTERS)
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South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay. (AP)
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Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history. (AFP)
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Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 February 2018

Winter Olympics round-up: Christie’s ‘curse’ and Russian doping scandal rumbles on

SPEED SKATING: Elize Christie said she was cursed after she was disqualified in her 1,000m short track heat. The 27-year-old — who was in pain because of an ankle injury — was disqualified in her women’s 1,000 meters heat and had to be carried off the track on. It was a sad end to another disappointing Games for the Scot — a triple world champion. Christie, who was disqualified in all three of her events at Sochi 2014, fell in the 500m final and suffered the same fate in Saturday’s 1500m semifinal. And she said: “I guess you could say (I am cursed). It’s a bit weird that it seems to happen at Olympics and nowhere else. I’m not someone who commonly gets penalties and stuff, so it just seems mental. It’s just six races of my life that have gone completely wrong.”
Meanwhile, South Korea powered to gold in the women’s short track speed skating 3,000 meters relay, defending the title they won in Sochi. It was a typically wild race for the gold with several crashes and near wipeouts before South Korea grabbed control with two laps left. They muscled their way to the front, triggering a mighty roar from the near-capacity crowd, before holding on for victory to maintain their domination of the event. Canada won the first relay gold at the 1992 Albertville Olympics but South Korea have taken ownership since, topping the podium in six of the next seven Games with only China interrupting that run with victory in 2010. Italy took the silver while China and Canada were disqualified in the final to hand the bronze medal to the Netherlands who set a world record to win the B Final.

BIATHLON: Martin Fourcade earned a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and solidified his legacy as the most successful Olympic champion in French history by anchoring his team to victory in the biathlon mixed relay. The 29-year-old became the first athlete to win three gold medals in Pyeongchang, lifting his career tally to five Olympic golds. That is the most of any French athlete in Summer or Winter Olympics. Fourcade erased a 38-second deficit on the last leg of the relay by hitting all 10 shots to secure the French team to the come-from-behind win. Fourcade had enough of a lead to wave the French flag as he crossed the finish line for his team in one hour, eight minutes and 34.3 seconds, more than 20 seconds ahead of second place Norway.

CURLING: Russian Olympic medalist Alexander Krushelnitsky could not have taken a banned drug deliberately, Russia’s sports minister said after anti-doping authorities confirmed a violation that has rocked the Pyeongchang Games. Krushelnitsky, who won bronze in Pyeongchang with his wife in mixed doubles curling, and is set to face a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in the near future after he tested positive for a banned substance, meldonium. “It’s obvious that in this particular case, the athlete could not have intentionally used a prohibited substance, it just does not make any sense,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said. “Curling, in theory, in not the kind of sport in which dishonest athletes dope,” he added. The Russian Olympic delegation said on Tuesday it could not explain how meldonium, which can aid endurance, ended up in Krushelnitsky’s body and that it was launching an investigation.


British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

Updated 27 February 2020

British golf star joins elite field for Saudi tournament

  • The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: English golf star Georgia Hall is the latest big name to be confirmed for the history-making inaugural Saudi Ladies International, the first time professional female golfers will play competitively in the country.

Hall stunned the golfing world in 2018 when she became the first English player in 14 years to win the Women’s British Open. The 23-year-old also won the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit in 2017 and 2018 as well as winning the Player of the Year accolade.

Last year Hall was part of a victorious European team that shocked the US for a first Solheim Cup victory in six years. The Bournemouth-born star competed in five matches in a tightly contested cup, with Europe winning by 14½ points to 13½.

The Saudi Ladies International will be the first professional women’s golf tournament held in the Kingdom. Hall is one of many headline names competing at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), near Jeddah, from March 19-22.

“I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country,” said Hall. “From what I’ve seen of the golf course, it looks like a stunning setup on the Red Sea and a pretty challenging test — it’s a brilliant chance for us to showcase our game to newcomers to golf.”

Amy Boulden, who broke onto the golfing scene in 2013, will also compete in the debut tournament. “Our game continues to break new ground, and coming to new places like Saudi Arabia for the first time shows the ambition of Golf Saudi and the Tour,” she said. “I want to play well in a big event that can give me some momentum for the season.”

Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth, another big name in the field, said: “Playing golf in front of new fans is the best way to expand the game and hopefully we will inspire more girls to pick up a golf club and get involved in our great sport.”

A field of 108 female professionals will contest the $1 million prize fund, one of the richest prizes on the recently expanded LET calendar. Players from across the golfing globe will tee off in the Kingdom for the watershed tournament.

I am pleased to be part of the first Saudi Ladies International as they look to make golfing history in the country.

Georgia Hall, English golf star

Among the big names are Thai teenage sensation Atthaya Thitikul, a two-time winner on the women’s tour at just 17 years of age, as well as experienced South African star Lee-Anne Pace, who has 12 worldwide victories to her name.

Order of Merit winner Beth Allen, three-time LET winner Carly Booth and Solheim Cup winner Azahara Munoz are other leading players lining up for the tournament.

“Hosting another prestigious Championship in Saudi Arabia adds to an exciting golf calendar for fans in the region. With top female golfers from around the world coming to compete, it will be the first time we will see elite female golfers compete in the country,” said Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation.

“The championship is open for everybody to attend throughout the four days and I encourage everybody to go along, watch world-class sport and enjoy the sport and entertainment on offer,” he added.

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, which is set within KAEC, has had a busy start to 2020, already playing host to the European Tour’s Saudi International.

At last month’s second staging, Major champion Graeme McDowell came out on top, marking his first title on the European Tour since 2014 and pushing his world ranking from 104 to 47.