Day 3 of Fencing World Championships sees new champions

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Vctorious women’s under-20 foil team was honored during the ongoing event in Riyadh. SPA
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Vctorious women’s under-20 foil team was honored during the ongoing event in Riyadh. SPA
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Winners of the men's event were honored on the third day of the competition. SPA
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The Japanese team emerged triumphant. SPA
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Updated 15 April 2024
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Day 3 of Fencing World Championships sees new champions

  • The American team dominated the men’s under-20 foil team

Riyadh: Abdullah Al-Sunaid, CEO of the 2024 Junior and Cadet Fencing World Championships, crowned the victorious women’s under-20 foil team during the ongoing event in Riyadh. 

The Japanese team emerged triumphant, securing the gold medal after a thrilling victory over Italy, who won silver. The Republic of Korea claimed the bronze, with France also clinching bronze and securing the third position in the intense competitions held at the King Saud University Sports Arena.

In the men’s events, Mohammed Chaouchi, president of the Tunisian Fencing Federation, honored the winners of the third day. The American team dominated the men’s under-20 foil team, seizing the gold medal by defeating Italy, who took silver. Japan secured the bronze, while France also claimed the bronze and secured the third spot on the podium.


Albania dent Croatia’s Euro 2024 hopes with dramatic draw

Updated 58 min 20 sec ago
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Albania dent Croatia’s Euro 2024 hopes with dramatic draw

  • Klaus Gjasula put through his own net and then became the last-gasp hero by slotting into the bottom corner in the fifth minute of injury time to snatch the draw
  • Albania have won plenty of plaudits with their performances against both Italy, in a 2-1 defeat, and Croatia, but will probably have to beat Spain to keep their last-16 hopes alive

HAMBURG: Albania left Croatia in danger of a group-stage exit from Euro 2024 after a thrilling 2-2 draw on Wednesday as Albania’s Klaus Gjasula scored at both ends, including a dramatic injury-time equalizer.
After a disappointing 3-0 loss to Spain in their opener, Croatia were behind again when Qazim Laci gave Albania an early lead in Hamburg.
But Croatia improved after making two half-time substitutions and Andrej Kramaric levelled with 16 minutes remaining, before Gjasula put through his own net.
The Albania midfielder became the last-gasp hero, though, slotting into the bottom corner in the fifth minute of injury time to snatch his team a point.
Croatia, World Cup semifinalists in 2022, will now likely need to win their final Group B match against holders Italy on June 24 to reach the knockout phase for a fifth straight major tournament.
Albania have won plenty of plaudits with their performances against both Italy, in a 2-1 defeat, and Croatia, but could not hold a lead in either game and will probably have to beat Spain to keep their last-16 hopes alive.
Croatia’s ‘golden generation’ were ultimately made to pay for a poor first-half display and are in danger of bowing out from major tournament football in limp fashion.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic opted against a change in formation from the Spain defeat, sticking with his midfield trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic.
But he brought in Ivan Perisic at left-back, moving Manchester City’s Josko Gvardiol into central defense.
The smell of smoke from flares filled the air outside the stadium as the supporters of both teams created one of the best atmospheres of the tournament so far.
Albania scored the fastest goal in European Championship history after just 23 seconds against Italy and they made another quick start.
It took until only the 11th minute for Sylvinho’s men to break the deadlock this time, as Sparta Prague midfielder Laci ghosted into the area unmarked to nod home an inch-perfect, inswinging cross from Jasir Asani.
Croatia tried to impose their passing game, but Albania were constantly in their faces and continued to look the more dangerous side, with right-back Elseid Hysaj firing off target.
The underdogs could have doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark, but Kristjan Asllani was denied by Dominik Livakovic when face-to-face with the Croatia goalkeeper.
Albania striker Rey Manaj passed up another excellent opportunity, failing to get enough purchase on his free header in first-half added time to seriously trouble Livakovic.
Dalic responded by making two changes at the interval, bringing on 21-year-old Luka Sucic and Mario Pasalic for the ineffective Lovro Majer and Brozovic.
Those substitutions brought about a quick improvement from Croatia, as Albania goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha made a good save to keep out Sucic’s left-footed shot, before Pasalic headed over seconds later.
Albania continued to threaten on the counter-attack, though, with Nedim Bajrami drilling wide of the near post in the 67th minute.
But Croatia finally found a way through in the 74th minute as substitute Ante Budimir picked out Kramaric inside the box and the forward cut inside before sending a composed finish inside Strakosha’s near post.
The turnaround appeared to be complete two minutes later as Sucic’s close-range effort was blocked, but only against the unfortunate Gjasula and into an empty net.
Albania did not give up, missing a series of chances as it appeared Croatia would cling on.
Gjasula had other ideas though, sweeping a loose ball home before a chaotic denouement that saw both sides throw bodies forward in search of a winner, to no avail.


India’s Suryakumar ‘happy’ to be in Barbados for Afghan test in T20 World Cup

Updated 19 June 2024
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India’s Suryakumar ‘happy’ to be in Barbados for Afghan test in T20 World Cup

  • The Indians, one of the favorites, topped Group A with their three wins over Ireland, Pakistan and USA
  • The move to Barbados takes the Indian team on to the more traditional cricket territory of the West Indies

BRIDGETOWN: India batsman Suryakumar Yadav has welcomed the switch from New York to the traditional pitches of Barbados ahead of their opening match in the Super Eight part of the T20 Cricket World Cup against Afghanistan on Thursday.
The Indians, one of the favorites to win the trophy, topped Group A with their three wins over Ireland, Pakistan, USA — their match with Canada in Lauderhill was abandoned — all played on the “spicy” drop-in pitches of the temporary stadium near New York.
The move to Barbados takes the Indians on to the more traditional cricket territory of the West Indies.
“It’s not that we weren’t happy playing there (New York) but we were playing for the first time,” he said at a press conference late on Tuesday.
“So yes, the conditions were different and a little challenging as well.
“But we’ve played here, we know the conditions here, how they react, how they act, so we are very happy to be here. It looks better.”
Suryakumar, the world’s top-ranked batter in the short white-ball format, has never played in Bridgetown in the T20 format but did play two ODIs against West Indies there last year, making 19 and 24.
He struggled for runs in those group matches in New York making just two against Ireland and seven against Pakistan before a measured 50 not out from 49 balls — some way short of his average T20I strike rate of 168.06 -guided the Indians to a seven-wicket win over USA.
“I have been the world’s number one batsman for the past two years so you should know how to bat according to different conditions and how you can change your game to what the team needs at that time,” said the 33-year-old.
“If you can play like that, I think it displays good batsmanship. And I try to do that if the wicket is difficult.”
“I knew post-power play that finding boundaries was going to be difficult on that ground with the wind, with the slow outfield.
“So, we had a plan in mind after the power play that we’d just try and hit the gap and run hard.
“It was a little difficult track to bat on, yes, but that day the situation was different. We had to be batting till the end, keeping the wickets in hand.”
Against Afghanistan, and indeed Bangladesh who they face on Saturday, Suryakumar is sure to come up against more of a spin threat but the Mumbai Indians slugger is more than ready.
“That has always been my strong point,” he said. “I mean, if the wicket is slow, the spinner is bowling, or if the wicket is good, that has always been my game.”
“We obviously have plans against Afghanistan. We are completely focused and know our own strong points really well.
“We do think about the opposition. But at the same time, at the end of the day, you should know what your strong points are and back it.”


Germany and Hungary fans bask in Stuttgart sunshine ahead of crunch clash

Updated 19 June 2024
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Germany and Hungary fans bask in Stuttgart sunshine ahead of crunch clash

  • Hosts Germany will be looking to reach the knockout stage with a second successive win in Group A
  • Hungary coach Marco Rossi said on Tuesday his side needed to play a perfect game to get at least a point against the three-time European champions

STUTTGART: Overnight storms cleared and the sun was shining on Stuttgart on Wednesday as thousands of fans arrived in the city center ahead of one of the most anticipated matches of Euro 2024’s group stage between Germany and Hungary.
Hosts Germany will be looking to reach the knockout stage with a second successive win in Group A while Hungary need at least a point to have any real hope of extending their stay at the tournament.
The game, a rematch of the 1954 World Cup final when Germany won their first international title, was designated high risk by security services and Stuttgart police had prepared a large presence to deal with any possible disturbances.
However, there were no signs of animosity at the city’s main fan park in Schlossplatz with supporters from both nations drinking in the sun, waving huge flags and exchanging chants in a friendly fashion hours ahead of kickoff.
Many Hungarian fans sported national team shirts with the name of their young captain Dominik Szoboszlai on the back, with the 23-year-old already have drawn comparisons as a team leader to the great Ferenc Puskas.
As supporters made their way to the stadium, the focus quickly turned to who would come out on top.
“There is no other option. We believe in this. We traveled 1,000 kilometers. We’re here. We have to win,” Hungary fan Istvan, from near the northern city of Eger, told Reuters.
Hungary coach Marco Rossi said on Tuesday his side needed to play a perfect game to get at least a point against the three-time European champions and supporter Lajos agreed.
“We wish that we will win, (but) the Germans are a lot better,” he said. “The Hungarians started badly against Switzerland (but) there is a chance here, if they want to go further, only victory or a draw is acceptable.”
Germany fans who saw their side smash Scotland 5-1 in the opener could afford to settle back, perhaps with a few steins of beer, and be a little more relaxed about the match.
“We all have a very good feeling. I hope Germany is the winner,” supporter Juergen said.


‘Riyadh is where the future is’: British-Pakistani boxer hails Saudi capital as global sports hub

Updated 19 June 2024
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‘Riyadh is where the future is’: British-Pakistani boxer hails Saudi capital as global sports hub

  • Hamzah Sheeraz entered professional boxing arena in 2017 and has won all 20 of his games
  • The undefeated boxer plans to compete again during the Riyadh Season in September this year

ISLAMABAD: British-Pakistani boxer Hamzah Sheeraz, who defeated Austin Williams from the US state of Wisconsin in a bout in Riyadh this month, has hailed the capital city of Saudi Arabia as the future hub of global sports.
Sheeraz defeated Williams on June 1 in a highly anticipated middleweight clash at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh as part of the Queensberry vs Matchroom: 5vs5 event.
The 25-year-old, who intends to compete again in the Saudi capital later his year, says it was an “amazing” experience to fight in Riyadh, though he competed for the first time in the Kingdom.
“[Saudi Arabia has] a massive, huge impact and not just only on boxing. We’re talking all sports here across the board. We’re talking soccer. We’re talking snooker. We’re talking obviously boxing. We’re talking UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship],” he told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
“Riyadh is where the future is in terms of sports. I see for the next, however, for the foreseeable future, Riyadh is where it’s all happening.”
Sheeraz was born in Ilford, London into a family of athletes. His father hails from Matore village in Kahuta tehsil of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Sheeraz’s father was a cricketer who played for Gloucestershire, while his paternal grandfather and uncle were both boxers. Sheeraz’s uncle also won ten national amateur titles for Slough and Pinewood Star clubs in the UK, according to the 25-year-old.
He was formally introduced to boxing at the age of 8 by his uncle and had his first bout at 12, becoming a three-time finalist at the national junior championships in the UK, before turning into a professional fighter.
In 2017, he signed up with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions as a professional boxer. Sheeraz debuted in September of the same year and defeated Duane Green in technical knockout in the second round on the undercard of the Billy Joe Saunders–Willie Monroe Jr. fight at the Copper Box Arena in London. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, Sheeraz has been undefeated and boasts a 20-0 record.
He said it was a great first experience competing before the “vibrant crowd” in Riyadh, adding that it was valuable to face that level of competitiveness and to be among the elite where even a 1 percent difference can be crucial.
“The people around the world can really see that Riyadh and the whole Riyadh Season is really portraying the pinnacle of sports and showing that this is the best level it can get to,” the 25-year-old said. “So, it’s always an honor to be a part of that and to be part of something where the competition is so high, but the reward is so much higher.”
Asked about his next fight, Sheeraz said he intended to compete again during the Riyadh Season in September. “Hopefully, we are looking at September but nothing has been confirmed yet. Hopefully, it’ll be another Riyadh Season event,” he added.
The annual Riyadh Season festival is part of the Saudi Seasons initiative to promote tourism and national heritage of the Kingdom, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA). The festival is attended by millions of people each year to enjoy exciting activities and events.
In honor of his exceptional performance in Saudi Arabia, Sheeraz said, Turki bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Shaikh, chairman of the GEA, had signed him as an “Ambassador of Riyadh Season,” alongside two other boxers Terence Crawford and Jared Anderson.
“I am an ambassador for Riyadh Season now and it is an absolute honor,” he told Arab News. “I can’t thank the people involved, His Excellency [Turki bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Shaikh] enough for choosing me and for allowing me to be someone who represents not just them, but who represents them on such a big, big worldwide level.”
Sheeraz garnered global fame in 2022, when he was recognized by the prestigious Boxing Writers’ Club as the ‘Young Boxer of the Year’. A number of former world champions have been the recipient of the award presented at the Savoy Hotel on London’s Embankment.
In March 2022, he defeated Jez Smith for the WBC International Silver Middleweight Title at the OVO Arena, Wembley. Previously, he defended the WBO European Champion title in super welterweight category on four occasions.
About boxing in Pakistan, Sheeraz said Pakistan had many great fighters, but the problem was that they did not have a platform and financial backing to advance their careers.
“Hopefully, [I will] bring these young superstars to Riyadh, bring them to Riyadh to perform,” he said, adding that he had a plan to build gyms in the country of his origin to help natural talent come through without any worries.
“Definitely, I would love to come back there,” he said, when asked whether he would like to compete in Pakistan. “I would [also] love to do tours, go to universities, give speeches, get in touch with the youth over there to steer them in the right direction and show them there are opportunities out there that they wouldn’t even dream of.”


Grand Slam champions Osaka, Raducanu, Wozniacki and Kerber receive wild cards for Wimbledon

Updated 19 June 2024
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Grand Slam champions Osaka, Raducanu, Wozniacki and Kerber receive wild cards for Wimbledon

The grass-court tournament starts on July 1
Osaka — a four-time major champion and former No. 1 player — and three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber returned from maternity leave at the start of this season

WIMBLEDON, England: Former Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Emma Raducanu have all been awarded wild cards for Wimbledon.
The grass-court tournament starts on July 1.
Osaka — a four-time major champion and former No. 1 player — and three-time Grand Slam winner Kerber returned from maternity leave at the start of this season.
Currently ranked 113th, Osaka was the only player to take a set from top-ranked Iga Swiatek at the French Open and followed that up with a quarterfinal spot last week in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a warm-up event for Wimbledon.
Former US Open champion Raducanu made her breakthrough at Wimbledon by advancing to the fourth round in 2021. She will be playing there for the first time in two years after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery in 2023.
Kerber won the 2018 Wimbledon title and was runner-up at the All England Club in 2016. She is also a former top-ranked player.
Wozniacki returned from maternity leave last August. She’s never got past the fourth round at Wimbledon, where she will be playing for the first time since 2019.
British players Francesca Jones, Heather Watson and Yuriko Miyazaki were also included in the initial list of invitations. One main draw wild card remains to be allocated. Seven British players have been invited to play in the men’s draw, including last year’s junior champion Henry Searle.