Sport360 brings you the ultimate guide to this week’s sporting events in the UAE.
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EMIRATES OPEN POLO CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 – DAY 5-11
Monday, March 20 to Sunday, March 26
The Emirates Open Polo Championship is regarded as one of the region’s most important polo events.
Fifteen editions have accomplished more than solely showcasing the pinnacle of talent in the UAE and region, with the tournament gathering together professionals and amateurs alike to help surge the sport’s popularity.
The latest iteration is set to welcome more than 3,000 spectators in attendance as the UAE finds time-long rival, Saudi Arabia obstructing its path to glory.
With more multiple exhilarating programmes and activities projected, the event will open for the general public who decide to observe history in the making.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club
MORE INFO: grpc.ae
EMIRATES AIRLINE T20 – DAY 1 & 2
Thursday, March 23 & Friday, March 24
Pakistan Super League finalists Peshawar Zalmi and Lahore Qalandars, Lancashire Lightning (2015 T20 Blast winners), the MCC Emerging England XI, Birmingham Bears (2016 RL Cup Winners) and Durham Jets will feature in the star-studded Emirates Airline T20 Tournament, which takes place on March 23-24 in Dubai.
The Emirates Airline T20 event provides fans with an opportunity to revel in top-notch cricket action while also catering to more casual fans with an array of beverages, family activities, entertainment and competitions for audience members to enjoy.
For the first time in tournament history, it will be hosted at the impressive, world class Dubai Sports City ICC Academy.
WHERE: DUBAI, Dubai Sports City, ICC Academy
MORE INFO: emiratest20.com
SHARBATLY FRUIT BIG STINKER 2017
Friday, March 24
Ever fancied a mountain climb before? Urban-Ultra will test contestants through a 540m mountain ascent and descent. Utilising a traditional marking system involving pink dots, GPS won’t be required.
The venue and vistas offer family and friends a great – albeit tiring – retreat away from raucous city life.
WHERE: Ras Al Khaimah, Khatt Springs Golden Tulip Hotel and Spa
MORE INFO: urbanultra.com
5 STAR AQUATHLON – FINAL RACE
Friday, March 24
Daman’s Activelife 5 Star Aquathlon marks its Emirates Palace comeback.
Jovial participants will be asked to dive headfirst and pursue an open water lagoon swim before emerging to run through the idyllic Palace grounds.
Not up to the task? Spectators are equally welcome to delight in the picturesque backdrop and bear witness to all the action surrounding the luxury hotel.
Kindly collect your swim caps and body marks no later than 5:30am.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace
MORE INFO: gulfmultisport.com
DESERT WARRIOR CHALLENGE AJMAN 2017
Friday, March 24
One of the UAE’s most prized obstacle course events returns as the first Desert Warrior Challenge of 2017 summons participants to Ajman’s Al Zorah Golf Club to tackle a selection of obstacles.
Designed to test mental fortitude, endurance and teamwork, the event invites members of the public – from young children to seasoned athletes – to face myriad challenges by employing different tactics whether it be running, jumping, carrying, climbing or sliding towards the finish line.
Warriors can expect brand-new obstacles including “Warrior Zip” and “The Chimney” – with DWC spicing up the repertoire to offer an entirely different experience from previous editions.
While the fan favourite “Marine Madness Zone” will make its comeback to keep contestants cool and wet, younger warriors can also rise up to the occasion by signing up for the 5km“Fearless” and 1/2km “Junior” categories in a day families regardless of skill and fitness level are sure to remember for years to come.
WHERE: Ajman, Al Zorah Golf Club
MORE INFO: desertwarriorchallenge.com
Friday, March 25
The martial arts reality-style TV show Enfusion Live lands on Emirati soil to host contestants from across the planet who will keep one eye on their opponent as they vie for glory and the ultimate cash prize. Dedicated in its mission to enhance kickboxing talent, particular female, each new season offers a new competition with new fighters of various weight category to grace the centre stage.
Supported by the Fatima bint Hazza Cultural Foundation and Al Shiraa Stables, Enfusion will be held in Abu Dhabi as kickboxers and muay thai fighters battle it out at the Yas Beach Club where fashion shows, pop ups, food trucks, live music and pool access will be available in tandem after the main fight.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Beach Club
MORE INFO: enfusionlive.com
BAHRAIN MTB BIKEFEST
Friday March 24
Thanks to a partnership with TriLife, Boost Bahrain are proud to announce the Gulf nation’s first-ever MTB Bikefest. This event invites cycling enthusiasts to revel in the mountain biking action, with access to rugged trails and routes at the Rashid Equestrian Centre.
There are three categories: “Oasis Run” (15km), “Mirage Race” (30KM) and a “Rock Slide” option for seasoned riders, who wish to put their skills to the test. Don’t leave the children at home, let them partake in the bonanza with the “Dune Bugs” race – a safe, mud-splattering 1-2km course for aspiring mountain bikers.
Face helmets and body armour must be donned at all times.
WHERE: Manama, ashid Equestrian & Horse Racing Club
MORE INFO: facebook.com/boostbahrain
AESGC MEN’S OPEN – DAY 1
Friday, March 24
The Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club welcomes returning golf aficionados to its grounds as the 2017 AESGC Men’s Open gets underway. Attracting participants from across the UAE and neighbouring GCC nations, the competition follows a 36-hole individual stroke play format.
Amateur men with valid handicap certificates are eligible to sign up for the tournament, but must declare the required documents prior to the first round or upon registration. In case the tournament ends with a tie, a playoff will start on the first hole to decide the winner. All other ties shall be decided by count back.
The field is limited to 96 players and handicap ballet will determine the final field if need be.
WHERE: Al Ain Equestrian Shooting & Golf Club
MORE INFO: aesgc.com
MANCHESTER CITY ABU DHABI CUP – DAY 1
Friday, March 24
Ever dreamed of enduring a training session on grounds trodden by some of the planet’s most famous football stars? Wait no further.Supported by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Etihad Airways, the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup gathers serious football fans to the capital as they try their luck in a two-day competition. The grand prize is a free flight en route to Manchester’s Etihad Campus.
The tournament, open to U-10s,U-12s and U16s, is expected to host more than 800 young players, but a single team will be considered worthy of the trip to England.
Aside from the football-crazed atmosphere, the “City Village” at Zayed Sports City will provide live entertainment, food and activities for attendees.
Since its extravagant beginnings in 1996, the Dubai World Cup has congregated the finest trainers, horses and riders, orchestrating action-packed horse races.
Winners successfully concluding their effort for the top spot have since been awarded the mouth-watering prize pool of $10m for their exploits. This time around the world richest horse race befittingly held at the Meydan Racecourse offers spectators nine nail-biting races – eight thoroughbred and a single purebred Arabian.
American stallion California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Art Sherman triumphed as undisputed victor 12 months ago. But with the cash pool raised to $30m and no horse accomplishing an elusive double in the race’s history, guests can expect another edition of hotly-contested stallion galloping.
WHERE: DUBAI, Nad Al Sheba, Meydan Racecourse
MORE INFO: dubaiworldcup.com
AL WATHBA CYCLE RACES
Saturday, March 25
Organised by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, cyclists will congregate for an entire afternoon of pedalling action in Al-Wathba, just outside the capital city. The races adhere to the Sports Council’s mantra of encouraging residents to engage in the discipline and adopt an overall healthier lifestyle.
The Al-Wathba Cycle Races are an excellent option for proficient riders, albeit recreational or unaccustomed to group-riding techniques, to hone their skills in a social setting.
The format allows riders to be reseeded in accordance to their ability and skill as riders. As fitness levels improve, cyclists will find themselves progressing and riding alongside athletes at the same level, similar to a competitive time trial event.
Presented by Daman ActiveLife, Abu Dhabi is once again set to become an island-style paradise and amass crowds, surpassing the number of attendees during last edition of The Color Run. Combining colour, positive vibes and catchy tunes, new and returning entrants will experience the all-new “Tropicolor Zone” –be bathed in sweet scents as they make their press through the 5km course at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Since its inception in 2012, The Colour Run has deserved its worldwide recognition, featuring in over 200 cities and 40 countries every year. It is arguably the most distinct, exhilarating running event in existence. The 2017 edition is the fourth iteration in Abu Dhabi and 11th in the Middle East.
WHERE: Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Yas Marina Circuit
MORE INFO: thecolorrun.ae
EARTH HOUR LOVERUN
Saturday, March 25
Kicked off by WWF, Earth Hour is a global environmental movement where citizens of the world are asked to switch off their lights for an hour (20:00 local time). Remaining on the premise of energy conservation, I Love Running have built on this concept by devising the LoveRun.
Held at the Jumeirah Lake Towers Park, participants are instructed to lace their trainers and wear sports equipment, before engaging in a luminous 2km run in the dark.
Goodie bags, cold refreshments and entertainment will be available to all individuals at the venue.
WHERE: Dubai, Jumeirah Lakes Towers Park
MORE INFO: premieronline.com/action/download.php
The world’s best athletes reconvene this week in Dubai, for the first time since the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and Emirati gold medallist Mohammed Al Hammadi knows he will have a target on his back following his heroics in Brazil last summer.
The Dubai World Para Athletics Grand Prix – also known as the 9th Fazaa International meeting – kicks off the 2017 nine-stop grands prix season with the action commencing on Monday at the Dubai Club for the Disabled and concluding on Thursday March 23.
More than 370 athletes from 40 countries – including 50 Rio 2016 medallists – will line up at the season opener with reigning T34 800m Paralympic champion, Al Hammadi headlining the UAE squad.
The 31-year-old turned the tables on his long-time rival Walid Ktila of Tunisia at the Games in Brazil by beating him for the first time to claim 800m gold, setting a new Paralympic record in the process.
The Sharjah-native is expected to take part in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m events this week in Dubai, where he’ll be facing off with Ktila – a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, world champion and world record holder – for the first time since Rio.
“The Dubai Grand Prix is a great competition for athletes, it keeps getting better each year,” Al Hammadi told Sport360.
“Maybe less people will be competing here this year because it’s only a few months after the Rio Paralympics, which ended ath the end of September. So to start training again right away after the Games is sometimes tough.
“Once one Paralympics is over, you start planning for the next four years. I’m working for a long-term goal and you start building your form once again step by step.”
Al Hammadi, like the rest of the field, is preparing for the upcoming World Championships, taking place in London from July 14-23.
“London will be the real test for me, it is where I can see how I measure up against the competition,” explained Al Hammadi.
“The Sharjah Sports Council is sponsoring me until Tokyo 2020. They will cover all my camps, my needs, my wheelchair, and that makes me really happy.
“The secretary general came to me before racing the final in Rio and told me ‘I will be supporting you until 2020’. That gave me huge motivation to go out there and get the gold.”
Al Hammadi is the country’s first Paralympic gold medallist in athletics and he’s hoping his success can spur others to follow suit.
Emirati Paralympic bronze medallist Sara Al Senaani will take part in the women’s F33 shot put action.
The 2017 World Para athletics season kicks off on Monday March 20 with the 9th Fazaa International meeting – the Dubai Grand Prix, taking place over four days in the UAE.
More than 370 athletes from 40 countries – including 50 Rio 2016 medallists – will line up at the season opener which takes place at the Dubai Club for the Disabled.
The event is the first of a series of nine Grand Prix taking place around the world this year as preparations build up for the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in July.
Here is a guide to the main events to watch this week in the Emirates:
Men’s 100m T33
Kuwait’s Paralympic champion Ahmad Al Mutairi won his country’s first gold medal since the Athens 2004 Games when he took victory in the men’s 100m T33 at Rio 2016. The 22-year-old, who also won the 2015 world title, will be tough competition for the likes of Great Britain’s Paralympic bronze medallist Andrew Small and Germany’s Denis Schmitz.
Men’s 200m T11
Namibia’s Ananais Shikongo has shown terrific form over the last 18 months, winning his first Paralympic title last year in 22.44 – just 0.03 seconds outside David Brown of the USA’s 2014 world record. Shikongo has high hopes for this year’s World Championships and if his impressive form continues he will undoubtedly be one to watch.
Men’s 800m T34
Tunisia’s reigning world champion and world record holder Walid Ktila goes head-to-head with newly crowned Paralympic champion and local star Mohamed Al Hammadi of the UAE. Their contest will provide a fascinating taste of what is to come for the rest of the year. Ktila finished Doha 2015 at the top of the individual medals table with four golds; last year however Al Hammadi showed that his rival is not invincible.
Men’s 1,500m T13
Algeria’s Abdellatif Baka hit the headlines at Rio 2016 when he clinched 1,500m T13 gold with a new world record 3:48.29. In fact the top four finishers were all faster than the time it took for Matthew Centrowitz to win the Olympic title weeks earlier. Baka lines up against a field including his twin brother Fouad who finished fourth in Rio.
Men’s 5,000m T54
Swiss star Marcel Hug takes on six distances in Dubai, from 100m through to 5,000m. He’s up against a talented field including the man who beat him to first place at February’s Tokyo marathon, Sho Watanabe of Japan. Watch out too for Watanabe’s countrymen, Masayuki Higuchi and Tomoki Suzuki.
Men’s shot put F33
All three medallists from Rio 2016 line up in Dubai: Germany’s Daniel Scheil, Algeria’s Kamel Kardjena and Saudi Arabia’s Hani Alnakhli won gold, silver and bronze respectively in Brazil. The battle for supremacy in 2017 – and the chase for the world title – begins here.
Women’s 100m T11
Brazil’s former Paralympic champion Terezinha Guilhermina and Great Britain’s newly crowned champion Libby Clegg race over 100m and 200m in the UAE. Clegg, who turns 27 days after the Grand Prix, broke Guilhermina’s world record last year and will be determined to show that she is now queen of the track in the T11 sprints.
Women’s 100m T38
Sophie Hahn is one of a number of talented Brits making the journey to the Middle East. The 20-year-old is the reigning world and Paralympic champion over 100m and will start as favourite. Watch out for her teammate Kadeena Cox, winner of the 400m T38 at Rio 2016.
Women’s discus F57
Algeria’s Nassima Saifi and Ireland’s Orla Barry won gold and silver respectively at the Rio Games; both take to the field in Dubai. Saifi is the reigning world champion and world record holder and one of a number of talented Algerians making the trip to the UAE – former world and Paralympic champion Safia Djelal also starts.
Women’s shot put F33
Another of Algeria’s Paralympic gold medallists, Asmahan Boudjadar, will be out to make her mark in Dubai a year after she broke the javelin F33 world record and set a new African shot put F33 record at the same event. Local hopes will rest with the UAE’s Paralympic bronze medallist Sara Al Senaani.