Empty seats cast new shadow on Qatar’s hosting of athletics world champs

Empty seats cast new shadow on Qatar’s hosting of athletics world champs

JEDDAH: Four of Saudi Arabia’s top female bowlers are aiming to strike it lucky after being selected to compete for the first time in a major GCC tournament.

The Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) will send Mashael Al-Abdulwahid, Ghada Nimir, Amani Al-Ghamdi, and Hadeel Tarmeen to the sixth GCC women’s sporting meeting to be held in Kuwait Oct. 20 to 30.

The players were part of a six-woman squad that represented the Kingdom at the recent World Bowling Women’s Championships in Las Vegas. They will compete in the singles, doubles, trio, and team events at the Kuwaiti games.

The team members had been due to participate in an Asian bowling competition which takes place at the same time but withdrew to join their GCC peers in pursuit of medal glory.

Six countries are expected to compete, with Bahrain the hot favorite to win gold. However, the UAE, Kuwait, and Oman will arrive on the back of strong recent performances making for a tough contest.

SBF President Bader Al-Alsheikh said: “We are thankful we’re in a nation that continues to provide its men and women with support and opportunities in various fields, including sport.

“Although this is our women’s first participation in the GCC tournament, we have faith and confidence they will present us honorably and will gain more experience, which is what we are aiming for.”

Dr. Razan Baker, SBF board member in charge of female participation, said: “Our women bowlers have learned a lot from their previous participations abroad and locally through competing at SBF women’s tournaments throughout 2018 and 2019.

“I believe this event will offer them a richer experience because they are going with a bigger delegation, which will be a new experience for them. Hopefully, this will motivate them to better performances and more medal wins before the end of the year.”

Tarmeen said: “Competing at the World Bowling recently had a great impact on us; my team and I returned with overwhelming positivity to play better. Now we are training harder to enhance our performance and meet the expectations of the SBF and our fans and make our country proud.

“I’m very happy we will be joining with seven other Saudi women teams. This will definitely boost our strength and motivation.”

The Saudi women’s team will attend a training camp this month in Riyadh run by British coach Mario Joseph, who also supervises the men. As part of their preparations for the GCC tournament the lady bowlers will compete in the Khobar singles championships  on Oct. 4.

Adwa Al-Arifi, Saudi Football Federation board member, said eight Saudi teams containing 62 female athletes would be taking part in the tournament in indoor football (13 women), basketball (12), fencing (12), taekwondo (6), athletics (5), table tennis (5), athletics for special needs (5), and bowling (4).

President of the Saudi Fencing Federation, Ahmad Alsabban, told Arab News: “For our fencers this participation is the first after several others at an Arab and Asian level, where they achieved victories despite having little experience and time playing in competitions. This participation is another step toward delivering more victories for Saudi Arabia, and we look forward to it thanks to the support of the General Sports Authority.”

Meanwhile, Hadi Al-Qahtani, president of the Saudi Arabian Athletics Federation (SAAF), said: “The SAAF is one of the earliest federations in supporting female participation in sport since London Olympics 2012, and this continued in the Rio Olympics, the Youth Olympics in Argentina, and many other Arab and Asian championships.

“We believe through these competitions our athletes will develop their skills and talent and become champions in the near future and therefore we wish our athletes all the best in their journey and in honoring the country,” he said.

The upcoming GCC games will include 11 sports; volleyball, basketball, handball, taekwondo, fencing, archery, bowling, table tennis, athletics, indoor football, and athletics for special needs.

Shaikha Hayat Al-Khalifa, a member of the organizing committee and board member of the Bahrain Olympic Committee, noted the success of previous tournaments and was pleased to see Saudi sportswomen involved in this latest event.

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