Al-Ain set to host Youth MMA Championship

The Youth MMA Championship will take place in Al-Ain on Feb. 24. (UAEJJF)
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Updated 22 February 2024
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Al-Ain set to host Youth MMA Championship

  • UAE University to hold competitions for male and female fighters across various age and weight divisions on Feb. 24

ABU DHABI: The UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation has announced that the UAE University in Al-Ain will host the Youth MMA Championship on Feb. 24.

The competition is open to boys and girls in the Youth C category (born in 2011 and 2012), Youth B category (born in 2009 and 2010), and Youth A category (born in 2007 and 2008).

This event marks the first MMA competition of the federation’s new season calendar, with participants taking part in various weight classes and each fight consisting of three rounds lasting two minutes.

Mohammed bin Dalmouk Al-Dhaheri, a board member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation, said: “We are delighted to host the first MMA event of the new season at UAE University in Al-Ain on Saturday. This championship will allow athletes to start their season on a high note and test their skills against the best in the nation.

“Through competitions like these, the federation aims to discover talent with the potential to thrive, providing them with the ideal platform to showcase their skills, advance toward pursuing professional careers in the sport, and ultimately become integral members of the national team,” he said.

“Last year, we have seen several milestones for MMA in the UAE, especially as Abu Dhabi hosted the IMMAF Youth World Championship in August which garnered accolades from all across the world. Events like the Youth MMA Championship are essential in preparing athletes for major competitions and showcasing their capabilities to the world.”

Ghala Al-Hamamdi, who is competing in the Youth B division representing ADMA Academy, said: “I am thrilled for the new season and can’t wait to showcase my skills at the event. I have been training diligently over the past few weeks and am looking forward to what promises to be a stellar season. I am grateful to the federation for organizing such world-class events and am eager to participate each time.”

Carl Booth, a coach at ADMA Academy, said: “Our team members are fully prepared and excited for the championship and the new season. They performed well last season, and are confident and committed to surpassing their performance this season. The Youth MMA Championship provides the perfect platform for them to pursue their goals, and I wish the best of luck to the team and all participants.”


Zverev serves his way to Italian Open title and sets himself up as a contender in Paris

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Zverev serves his way to Italian Open title and sets himself up as a contender in Paris

  • It’s been a long road of recovery for the fifth-ranked Zverev after tearing three ligaments in his right ankle during the 2022 French Open semifinals against Rafael Nadal
  • This year’s French Open starts next Sunday and now Zverev has established himself among the favorites again

ROME: Alexander Zverev put on a serving clinic in a 6-4, 7-5 win over 24th-ranked Nicolas Jarry to claim his second Italian Open title Sunday and earn his biggest trophy since tearing his ankle apart two years ago.

Zverev opened the match with three straight aces and won 20 of his 21 service points in the first set. The German didn’t drop a point on his first serve until late in the second set when the 6-foot-7 (2.01 meter) Jarry ran down a well-placed drop shot and replied with a cross-court winner.

In all, Zverev won 44 of his 49 service points — helped by getting in 95 percent of his first serves.

It’s been a long road of recovery for the fifth-ranked Zverev after tearing three ligaments in his right ankle during the 2022 French Open semifinals against Rafael Nadal.

When Zverev broke Jarry to convert his fourth match point, he dropped to his knees on the red clay court, leaned back and let out a scream.

“The last two years have been extremely difficult,” Zverev said during the trophy ceremony. “I didn’t know whether I was ever going to be on this stage — regardless of winning or losing — so this moment is extremely special.”

This year’s French Open starts next Sunday and now Zverev has established himself among the favorites again — especially with top-ranked Novak Djokovic and 14-time Roland Garros champion Nadal both struggling lately. Djokovic and Nadal were eliminated in the second and third rounds, respectively, in Rome.

There are also injury concerns for second-ranked Jannik Sinner (hip) and third-ranked Carlos Alcaraz (right forearm) — who both withdrew from Rome.

“The focus is on Paris,” Zverev said. “But let me enjoy this one for a day or so, and then I’ll have my full focus on Paris.”

Zverev, who has disputed a penalty order from a German court over allegations that he caused bodily harm to a woman, faces a trial starting during Roland Garros. He said recently that he won’t attend the start of the legal proceedings.

And Zverev isn’t 100 percent healthy either. He had the pinky on his left hand bandaged due to a fall in his quarterfinal win over Taylor Fritz, after which he said he “tore a capsule” and that his finger was “crooked.” The German plays right-handed but uses a two-handed backhand.

Zverev will also be defending his gold medal when the Paris Olympics tennis tournament is held at Roland Garros starting in late July.

Jarry, a Chilean playing in his first Masters Series final, upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals.

“This has been an incredible week,” Jarry said.

Jarry was cheered on by his grandfather, Jaime Fillol, who was a top-20 player and who gave Jarry his first racket as a kid. Fillol was on Chile’s Davis Cup team that lost the 1976 final to Italy.

Jarry’s wife and two sons were also courtside and he grew emotional during the trophy ceremony and had to look away from his family to regain his composure.

“This is a fantastic example of what a family life on tour can look like,” Zverev said.

“I’m not so emotional,” Zverev added. “My dad cries, I don’t cry. It’s a good mix.”

It was Zverev’s third final in Rome. He won in 2017 by beating Djokovic in straight sets for his first Masters Series title then lost to Nadal in the title match a year later.

It was also Zverev’s first Masters final since getting beat by Alcaraz at the 2022 Madrid Open. The only previous titles he won since his ankle injury came in Hamburg, Germany, and Chengdu, China, last year.

Zverev earned a winner’s check of €963,225 (more than $1 million).

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek beat No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the women’s final on Saturday.

In the women’s doubles final, Coco Gauff double faulted on match point to hand Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini of Italy the title with a 6-3, 4-6, (10-8) victory. Gauff teamed with Erin Routliffe.

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos beat Marcelo Arevalo and Mate Pavic 6-2, 6-2 for the men’s doubles title.


Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

Updated 20 May 2024
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Man City win historic fourth straight Premier League title

  • The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December
  • The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Manchester City created English football history on Sunday, beating West Ham 3-1 to win their fourth straight Premier League title and break Arsenal’s hearts as Jurgen Klopp made an emotional Liverpool exit.

Phil Foden scored two early goals — including one after 79 seconds — at an expectant Etihad to lay the foundations for City’s victory.

West Ham’s Mohammed Kudus pulled a goal back with a spectacular overhead kick to give Arsenal renewed hope but Rodri struck just before the hour mark to effectively wrap up the title.

The Gunners, without a Premier League trophy since 2004, came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1 but had to content themselves with second place for a second straight season after they finished two points behind City’s tally of 91.

The champions’ relentless surge to the finishing line has included 19 wins and four draws since their last defeat in the league, at Aston Villa in early December.

City, who have now won six titles in seven seasons, stand alone as the only English team to have won four straight top-flight titles, eclipsing the achievements of the great Liverpool and Manchester United teams of the past.

“When I moved here, if someone had said I would win six leagues in seven seasons I would say ‘You’re insane — no way’,” said City manager Pep Guardiola.

“All these players for Manchester United and Liverpool and Chelsea, all these teams. Now is our period. We are part of that.”

But while City have set new standards in English football, they remain under a cloud as a result of 115 Premier League charges for alleged financial irregularities, levelled early last year.

Elsewhere on the final day of the Premier League season, Luton’s relegation was confirmed with a 4-2 loss at home to Fulham. They will join Burnley and Sheffield United in the Championship next season.

Tottenham beat Sheffield United 3-0 to seal fifth spot and a place in next season’s Europa League while Chelsea guaranteed a sixth-place finish and European football with a 2-1 win against Bournemouth.

Newcastle’s 4-2 win at Brentford condemned Manchester United to an eighth-place finish — their lowest since 1990.

Erik ten Hag’s men, who beat Brighton 2-0 in Roberto De Zerbi’s last game in charge of the south coast club, have a chance to salvage something from a disastrous season in next week’s FA Cup final against City.

But if United lose that they will miss out on European football.

Foden, 23, has enjoyed his most impressive season yet for City, taking his tally to 27 goals in all competitions on Sunday, together with 11 assists.

The England midfielder opened the scoring on Sunday in the second minute with a vicious left-footed shot from outside the penalty area, settling nerves among the home fans. He then stroked the ball into the net in the 18th minute after an assist from Jeremy Doku.

The title race briefly came alive again when Takehiro Tomiyasu side-footed home to level for Arsenal at the Emirates before Kudus pulled one back for West Ham.

The atmosphere became more subdued at the Etihad but the visitors rarely threatened again in David Moyes’s final game in charge for the visitors and Rodri’s goal in the 59th minute ultimately made the game safe.

Kai Havertz’s late winner for Arsenal proved irrelevant.

Arteta gave a rousing speech to the fans in the immediate aftermath of the match, urging them to crave more.

“All this is happening because you started believing, you started to be patient and started to understand what we tried to do,” he said.

“All the credit has to go to the players and the staff. Don’t be satisfied. We want much more than that and we’re going to get it.”

Klopp ended his Liverpool reign with a 2-0 win at home to Wolves but the match was merely a sideshow as the fans paid a warm tribute to a manager who has transformed the club since arriving in 2015.

“It doesn’t feel like an end,” the German told a packed Anfield. “It just feels like a start. Today I saw a football team play full of talent, youth, creativity, desire, greed.”

He added: “We have this wonderful stadium, training center and you — the superpower of world football. Wow.”


Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

Updated 20 May 2024
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Xander Schauffele scores major breakthrough, wins PGA Championship in a thriller at Valhalla

  • Schauffele: I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it
  • Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky: Xander Schauffele cashed in at just the right time Sunday, swirling in a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the PGA Championship for his first major with the lowest score in major championship history.

The Olympic gold medalist got something even more valuable in silver — that enormous Wanamaker Trophy after a wild week at Valhalla.

Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 to beat Bryson DeChambeau, entertaining to the very end with a 10-foot birdie of his own on the par-5 18th for a 64.

Schauffele became the first player since Phil Mickelson in 2005 at Baltusrol to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the last hole to win by one. And this took all he had.

He already had mud on his golf ball on two key holes along the back nine that kept him from attacking the flag. His drive on the 17th bounced back into a bunker, forcing him to scramble for par and stay tied with DeChambeau, who had finished two groups ahead of him. And then his tee shot rolled just far enough toward the edge of a bunker to present another problem.

Schauffele had to stand with his feet in the sand, gripping well down on the 4-iron, aiming out to the right and hoping for the best. He drilled a beauty, some 35 yards short but with a good angle. He pitched to 6 feet and was never closer to finally winning a major.

“I told myself this is my opportunity — capture it,” Schauffele said.

The putt broke just enough left to catch the left edge of the cup and swirled around before disappearing. Schauffele, who exudes California chill, raised both arms above his head with the biggest smile before a hard hug with Austin Kaiser, his caddie and former teammate at San Diego State.

DeChambeau was on the range, staying loose for a potential playoff, watching Schauffele from a large video board. He saw the winning putt fall, and walked all the way back to the 18th to join in with so many other players wanting to congratulate the 30-year-old.

“I gave it my all. I put as much effort as I possibly could into it and I knew that my B game would be enough,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just clearly somebody played incredibly well. Xander’s well deserving of a major championship.”

Viktor Hovland, the FedEx Cup champion who wasn’t sure he even belonged at Valhalla while trying to work his way out of a slump, also had a 10-foot putt after DeChambeau hit his to tie for the lead. He missed the birdie, then missed a meaningless par putt and shot 66 to finish third.

Schauffele, who began this championship with a 62 to tie the major championship record, finished at 21-under 263 with that winning birdie. That beats by one shot the major record previously shared by Brooks Koepka in the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive and Henrik Stenson in the 2016 British Open at Royal Troon.

And so ended another memorable week at Valhalla.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who arrived five days after the birth of his first child, was arrested and briefly jailed on Friday morning for not following directions of police investigating a fatal car crash involving a pedestrian an hour earlier.

He got out of jail and to the course in time to play the second round and shot 66. But it caught up with him on the weekend. Scheffler fell out of contention with a 73 on Saturday — his first round over par since last August. He closed with a 65 to tie for eighth.

Two players — Schauffele on Thursday and Shane Lowry on Saturday — tied the major record with a 62. Scoring records seemed to fall just about every day on a rain-softened course.

All that, and it came down to one putt that Schauffele will never forget.

“I really didn’t want to go into a playoff with Bryson,” he said.

In so many ways, this time was overdue. He had gone nearly two years since last winning at the Scottish Open. Schauffele had eight consecutive finishes in the top 20 at majors coming into Valhalla. He already had a pair of runner-up finishes and six top 5s.

And in the last two months alone, he lost 54-hole leads when he was chased down by Scheffler’s 64 at The Players Championship and by Rory McIlroy’s 65 last week at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The victory was his eighth on the PGA Tour — that doesn’t include his Olympic gold from the Tokyo Games in 2021. This one moves him to a career-best No. 2 in the world, still a long way from Scheffler but assuring Schauffele of qualifying for the US team in the Olympics.
 


Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

Updated 20 May 2024
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Barcelona seal lucrative 2nd place in Spain, Sorloth scores 4 as Villarreal draw with Real Madrid

  • Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League
  • Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium

MADRID: Barcelona routed Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to secure the lucrative second place in the Spanish league on Sunday, while champion Real Madrid drew 4-4 at Villarreal with Norway striker Alexander Sorloth scoring all four goals for the hosts.

There won’t be much left to fight for in the final round next weekend as Cadiz became the last team to be relegated after being held to a 0-0 draw at home against Las Palmas.

Real Sociedad secured the last Europa League spot with a 2-0 win at Real Betis, who were left with a place in the Europa Conference League.

Pedri scored twice and Robert Lewandowski once for Barcelona, who kept a four-point gap to Catalan rival Girona with a round to go. Girona won 3-1 at Valencia for their first-ever third place finish in the Spanish league. They had already clinched a Champions League place in advance.

Atletico Madrid will finish fourth after a 4-1 loss to midtable Osasuna at their Metropolitano stadium.

BARCELONA SECOND

Lewandowski scored in the third minute and Pedri added goals in the 72nd and 75th as Barcelona won for the fourth time in five matches to seal second place and a spot in the lucrative Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid and Copa del Rey finalists Mallorca and Athletic Bilbao also will play in the Super Cup next season.

The victory came a day after Xavi denied a slew of reports in Spanish media outlets that Barcelona’s leadership is considering firing the coach for having said that the club’s poor finances will impede it from competing with Madrid.

“The situation hasn’t changed,” Xavi said. “I imagine I’ll speak with the president tomorrow or the next day. We needed the win to secure second place and we did it.”

Some fans chanted in support of Xavi and against Laporta during Sunday’s match.

Rayo are in 16th place.

SORLOTH THRIVES

Sorloth scored once in the first half and three times in the second to give eighth-place Villarreal a draw against Madrid, who scored all of their goals before halftime.

Arda Guler scored twice and Joselu and Lucas Vázquez added a goal each for Madrid, which played with a mostly reserve squad as it continues to prepare for the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 in London.

Madrid had clinched their 36th league title three rounds ago.

CADIZ DEMOTED

Cadiz needed a win against Las Palmas to avoid returning to the second division for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Cadiz, coming off two consecutive victories, had a goal disallowed by video review for offside in the first half, and saw defender Victor Chust sent off with a straight red card in the 74th.

Cadiz had spent 14 straight seasons in the lower divisions — including seven years in the third tier — before making it to the top flight in 2020-21.

Almeria and Granada had already been relegated before Sunday’s games.

SOCIEDAD SIXTH

Sociedad sealed the final Europa League spot with the win against Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis.

Brais Mendez and Mikel Merino scored first-half goals for Sociedad, who won three of their last four games.

The other Europa League place had been secured by Athletic Bilbao, who beat 13th-place Sevilla 2-0.

In other results, 17th-place Mallorca drew 2-2 against last-place Almeria and Celta Vigo won 2-1 at second-to-last Granada.


Al-Ittihad Club victorious at 2024 West Region Hockey Championship

Al-Ittihad Club celebrate winning the gold medals at the 2024 Saudi Arabia West Region Championship Cup. (Supplied)
Updated 19 May 2024
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Al-Ittihad Club victorious at 2024 West Region Hockey Championship

  • Al-Ittihad clinched the title at the covered sports hall at Al-Ittihad Club in Jeddah, relegating beaten finalists Sakhi to the silver medals
  • The United Thalasserry Sports Club team secured third position in the competition

RIYADH: Al-Ittihad Club picked up the gold medals at the 2024 Saudi Arabia West Region Championship Cup, the Saudi Hockey Federation said on Sunday.

Federation CEO Abdulilah Al-Maimoun presented the cup and gold medals to Al-Ittihad after their victory in the championship, which took place on May 17 and 18.

Al-Ittihad clinched the title at the covered sports hall at Al-Ittihad Club in Jeddah, relegating beaten finalists Sakhi to the silver medals. The United Thalasserry Sports Club team secured third position in the competition.

Individual prizes were also handed out during the championship ceremony. Ahmed Al-Jundi, a standout player from Al-Ittihad team, landed the best player award, while Jeddah Future players Karim Ashraf, best goalkeeper, and Talam Wissam, best young player, were also honored.

The championship was decided by a series of 12 matches, featuring 60 players representing six teams.

Al-Maimoun said the 2024 Saudi Arabia Western Region Championship had achieved the goals the federation aspires to. He indicated that through these competitions, the federation aims to promote field hockey and attract interest in it.

The CEO confirmed the federation’s keenness to continue organizing such championships as a means to promote the game in other cities in the Kingdom.