Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1371, (30 November - 6 December 2017)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1371, (30 November - 6 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Outstanding and distinguished

Two superstar Egyptian female athletes featured on a UAE sports best list, reports Inas Mazhar

 

Egypt’s squash champion Nour Al-Sherbini was named the 2017 Arab Outstanding Athlete of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, while Egyptian swimmer Farida Osman claimed the Distinguished Athletes Achievement Sports Award.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan was also named the UAE Sports Personality of the Year at the 2017 ninth edition of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, while Princess Rima bint Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud of Saudi Arabia was chosen for the corresponding award of Arab Sports Personality.

The winners were announced at a press conference on Monday afternoon at the Palazzo Versace Hotel by Mattar Al Tayer, chairman of the board of trustees of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, one of the entities under the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

Moaza Al Marri, secretary-general of the award and Mustapha Larfaoui, a member of the award’s board of trustees and chairman of the jury committee, were also present on the occasion.

Sheikh Al Nahyan was bestowed the honour for his contributions as chairman of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, while Princess Rima – deputy president of the Sports Authority for Planning & Development and the first female to head a Saudi Sports Federation – won the award for her contributions in founding and regulating women’s sports in Saudi Arabia by introducing sports among girls at public schools.

Omar Abdul Rahman, the UAE and Al Ain football superstar who was named AFC Player of the Year for 2016, picked up the UAE Outstanding Athlete Award, while Egyptian squash player Al-Sherbini, the women’s world No1 who won back-to-back World Open titles in 2015 and 2016, has been named the Arab Outstanding Athlete.

Al-Sherbini is one of the most exciting female players on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour and who made history at both the World Championship and British Open — the two most prestigious tournaments on the PSA World Tour — in her short career thus far.

The Egyptian became the youngest ever World Junior Champion in 2009 when she claimed the title at just 13. She then became the youngest ever tour finalist in June of that year as she finished runner-up at the Miro Classic. She broke into the world’s top 50 at just 14 years of age and claimed her first tour title at the Heliopolis Open in 2010. A year later she captured the Alexandria Open title and, in 2012, Al- Sherbini shocked the world of squash when she made it to the final of the British Open at 16 before losing to Nicol David in the final. The year 2013 started promisingly with triumphs at the Greenwich Open and she also lifted her third World Junior Championship, becoming the first player ever to do so.

Injuries meant a number of months out of the game for the Egyptian but she became the youngest player ever to reach a World Championship final in March 2014 when, after stunning David in the final, she narrowly lost a thrilling final to Laura Massaro.

A Texas Open title followed a month later and she made it to another World Series final in October at the US Open, only to lose to David in the final. 2015 saw the Egyptian reign victorious at the prestigious Carol Weymuller Open, sweeping aside then world No 1 Raneem Al-Welili, also of Egypt, in the semi-final of the event before conquering Joelle King in the final. She reached the final of the Qatar Classic a month later, defeating David to reach the final where she narrowly lost to Massaro in five.


Al-Sherbini

The year 2016 was arguably Al-Sherbini’s major breakthrough year, with a maiden World Series title coming in January’s Tournament of Champions before she became the first female Egyptian to lift the iconic British Open crown just two months later.

Even greater things were to come, though, from the Alexandria-born Al-Sherbini as, in April, she recovered from 2-0 down in the final of the World Championship against Massaro to avenge her defeat to the English woman two years earlier to become the youngest world champion of all time, the first Egyptian to win the pinnacle tournament on the women’s tour in the process.
Her exploits there elevated her to the world No 1 spot in the May 2016 rankings for the first time in her career as she became the second youngest female ever to reach top spot.
An incredible 2015/16 campaign was rounded off with a semi-final finish at the PSA Dubai World Series finals, with Massaro exacting her revenge to win in straight games.
Al-Sherbini began the 2016-17 season with runner-up finishes at the Al-Ahram Open in front of the iconic Great Pyramids of Giza and also the US Open, before claiming her first title of the campaign at the Cleveland Classic, beating Alison Waters in the final.

Al-Sherbini fell short of clinching another title, this time at the British Open as she lost out to Massaro in the semi-finals, who came from two games down to win.
The Egyptian went on to lift her second PSA Women’s World Championship title a few weeks later, at the age of just 21 after she defeated Al-Welili in the final at El-Gouna — 12 months after becoming the first female Egyptian ever to lift the biggest title on the women’s tour and saw her retain her world No 1 ranking in the PSA women’s world seedings in May 2017.

Al-Sherbini then went on to reach the final of the 2016-17 season-ending PSA Dubai World Series finals where she faced Massaro, with the Briton triumphing in three.

Swimmer Osman has been making headlines since August when she won the FINA swimming world championships 100 metres butterfly bronze medal for the first time in the history of Egypt, Africa and the Arab world. The 22-year-old was named last month the best African Athlete of the Year by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) for her remarkable achievement. The Bin Rashid award, given to the most distinguished athlete of the year, is the second for the Egyptian swimmer in a few months.

The ninth edition of the Bin Rashid Awards considered the sporting achievements of individuals, teams and organisations from 20 September 2016 to 31 August 2017. The winners will be honoured at a glittering awards ceremony on 10 January 2018.

Speaking on the occasion, chairman of the awards’ board of trustees Al Tayer thanked the generous care shown and efforts of the board of trustees and employees of the award, and the efforts of local and Arab media organisations in supporting the work of the award and the distribution of its message. He said the ninth edition of the awards has grown significantly in terms of numbers and the quality of entries.

“Although the qualifying period for the ninth edition of the awards — which was from 20 September 2016 to 31 August 2017 — did not witness any Olympic Games and there were few major international events during this period, there was a significant increase in the number of entries. We received 297 entries for this edition, which is 99 more than what we received for the eighth edition of the awards (198), a jump of 50 per cent.

“We saw an increase in the number of entries for the awards in the different UAE categories as well. Last time, we received 72 files; this time, that number has gone up to 87. The number of entries we received from international sports federations also went up from 15 to 26, an increase of about 73 per cent,” said Al-Tayer who is also vice chairman of Dubai Sports Council.

Empowerment of Women, as decreed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, was a principal focus of the ninth edition of the MBR Creative Sports Award. Al Tayer said he was pleased to see the presence of a number of women, including Princess Rima and Al-Sherbini, on the winners’ list.

“I am also very pleased to see a strong presence of women on the list of competitors for the ninth edition of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award,” Al Tayer said. “This year, empowerment of women was the criteria for judging the best local and international organisations, and that confirms the status of women’s sport in the awards and our positive interaction with them.”

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