Sahnoune books Rio spot at Arab Swimming Championships in Dubai

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Rio-bound: Oussama Sahnoune (Photo credit: Salah Awaad/UAE Swimming Federation)

Algeria’s Oussama Sahnoune became the first swimmer to book his spot to the Rio 2016 Olympics via the Arab Swimming Championships that are taking place in Dubai at the Hamdan Sports Complex (HSC) this week (April 4-7).

Sahnoune, clocked 22.27 seconds to take gold in the 50m freestyle event and match the A-standard Olympic qualifying time he needed to secure a place at the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.

The 24-year-old, who had previously made the semi-finals in the 50m freestyle at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010, said he is ecstatic over qualifying for his first Games at the senior level.

“I was really happy when I made that semi-final in Singapore but now, I’m over the moon for qualifying for my first senior-level Olympic Games,” Sahnoune told Sport360° at the HSC.

“This is the result of a huge effort from my entire team in France. I especially thank them and my family for all the support.

“The 50 free is my signature event but now I’m hoping to go even better and qualify in the 100 free tomorrow.

“I prepared well for this competition and I came here to Dubai eyeing gold as well as Olympic qualification. Thankfully I have achieved both goals. It’s a big honour for me to accomplish this for my country. And I hope to do the same for Algeria in Rio.”

Defending Arab champions Egypt are currently leading the medals table but Algeria are close behind, with Tunisia also in the mix.

“It’s well-known that Egypt has really good swimmers and they’re making this competition a lot stronger. It’s great that Arab swimming is advancing like this,” added Sahnoune.

Olympian Ahmed Mathlouthi led a Tunisian one-two in the 200m individual medley, clocking 2:02.62 to take gold ahead of his team-mate Taki Mirabet.

It made up for a disappointing 400m freestyle he raced earlier in the evening, which saw him clock 3:50.49 to place second behind Egypt’s Ahmed Akram, who swam 3:49.07.

“I had a very bad first race, the 400 free, I was hoping for 3:48 but it didn’t go well. The 200IM was a little bit better,” said Mathlouthi, who competed in the 200m freestyle at the London 2012 Olympics and is already qualified for the 400 free in the Rio Games.

“I’m targeting the final at the Olympics, or at least the semi-finals, just to feel like you’re part of the competition, to feel present and to represent your country and the Arab world.”

UAE’s Yaaqoub Al Saadi was not pleased with his 27.27 swim that earned him a fifth place in the 50m backstroke final.

“I didn’t swim my best times so I’m not really happy,” he confessed.

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Happy Birthday – April 5 – Fernando Morientes, Thomas Hitzlsperger, John Hartson

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Many iconic centre forwards have donned the famous white shirt of Real Madrid. Morientes, who turns 40 today, cannot lay credit to being in the same bracket as the likes of Ferenc Puskas, Ronaldo or Raul. But his partnership with the latter mentioned from 1997-2005 rightly earns his place as a club great.

He was the hard-working target man alongside Raul for club and country during many of his celebrated team-mate’s most-productive years. Morientes first came to notice at Albacete, with a successful spell at Real Zaragoza leading to a switch to the capital giants. A solid 72 goals in 182 appearances followed before he was sold to Liverpool. Several moves around Europe followed before he retired in 2010. An international record of 27 strikes in 47 games for Spain also stands testament to his quality.

1960: Hiromi Taniguchi, a former Japanese long-distance runner who won the London and Tokyo Marathons (56).

1962: Richard Gough (soccer) – former Rangers and Scotland defender (54).

1973: Brendan Cannon, ex-rugby union hooker who played 42 times for Australia from 2001-06 (43).

1973: Peter Nicol (squash) – retired former world number one who switched his allegiance from Scotland to England (43).

1975: John Hartson (soccer) – former Celtic and Wales striker (41).

1976: Kim Collins (athletics) – former men’s 100m world champion from St Kitts & Nevis (40).

1980: Matt Bonner, a veteran power forward for the San Antonio Spurs who is a two-time NBA champion (36).

1982: Thomas Hitzlsperger, ex-Germany midfielder who earned nickname ‘Der Hammer’ for his fierce shots (34).

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Kareem Abdul Jabbar becomes NBA's highest scorer ever

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Giant among men: Kareem Abdul Jabbar

With less than nine minutes left on the clock against the Utah Jazz, a trademark skyhook shot from the Los Angeles Lakers’ giant centre moved him onto 31,420 points in the NBA and into the history books as the league’s highest-ever scorer.

The game stopped as team-mates and opposition players rushed over to greet him,

while the 18,000 fans in the Thomas and Mack Center at the University of Nevada rose to a standing ovation. Abdul-Jabbar, 37 at the time, was then taken out of the game.

His 38,387 points tally upon retirement in 1989 is still the record.

Watch the highlights of some of the moments of his illustrious career

Here’s what other memorable events happened on this day:

1904: First international rugby league match sees England lose 9-3 to ‘Other Nationalities’ side.

1946: Outsider Lovely Cottage stormed to victory in 100th running of the Grand National horse race.

1974: West Indies legends Sir Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kanhai play their last day of Test cricket.

1987: Ice hockey icon Wayne Gretzky wins seventh-straight NHL scoring title with the Edmonton Oilers.

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