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Mixed year for Saudi federations
By Abdullah Al-Hariri Saudi Gazette
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 01 - 2009

Saudi sports enjoyed mixed luck in an eventful 2008 as only a few sports federations marked the year with some individual and team achievements at international and national levels.
Inside the Kingdom, Arwa Mutabaqani enlightened 2008 when she was named as the first Saudi woman to take a sports position in the Saudi sports history.
Mutabaqani was appointed by Prince Sultan Bin Fahd, President of the General Presidency of Youth Welfare, as a member of Equestrian Federation after half of the federation members took the position by election.
Despite its failure in the Beijing Olympic Games, the Equestrian Federation recorded one of the best records during the year at the regional and international levels.
Prince Abdullah Bin Mete'b Bin Abdullah won the fourth spot in the Equestrian Grand Prize Championship that was held in Italy.
Faisal Al-Sha'lan, Abdullah Al-Sharbatly and Khaled Al-Eid also won laurels in several championships and they also qualified for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. But Saudi Arabia failed to make its presence felt at the Olympic Games in the equestrian, athletic, shooting and weightlifting events.
However, Osamah Al-Shanqiti made history by becoming the first Saudi athlete to win a gold medal in Paralympic Games.
Al-Shanqiti also broke the world record after he leapt to 15.37 meters in the triple jump of F12.
A few days after he won the gold, Al-Shanqiti clinched another medal for Saudi Arabia by winning the silver in the long jump. He recorded 7.07 meters to round up Sadi Arabia's show with two precious medals.
In the 13th Asian Youth Athletics Championship in Jakarta, Ismail Al-Subinai won the gold medal in 400m while Emad Noor won the silver in the 1500m.
Jasser Al-Bishi also came second in the high jump to win the silver medal.
Saudi 4x400m relay team won the bronze medal and Adel Asiri and Sami Al-Hayder also won bronzes in the 200m and 110m respectively.
In the 13th Arabian Athletics championship in Tunisia, the Saudi team returned home with one gold, six silver and two bronze medals.
In the third Asian Indoor Athletics Competition in Doha Mohammed Salman Al-Khwaildi jumped to 8.42 meters to win the gold in the long jump while his countryman Hussain Al-Saba' won the bronze and the Saudi team of 4x400m won the gold.
In the 12th World Athletics Indoor Competition in Spain, Mohammed Salman Al-Khuwaildi came third in the long jump with 8.01m.
In the GCC Athletics Championship that was held in the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia topped the table after winning 11 gold, five silver and six bronze medals.
In soccer, Saudi team continued its campaign in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers winning one game against the UAE and drawing with Iran in Riyadh before losing against South Korea at home.
The Brazilian coach Dos Anjos, who led the Saudi team to the final match in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, was sacked in 2008. He was replaced by Saudi coach Nasser Al-Johar.
The Saudi U-19 team failed to make it to the World Cup finals in Egypt after losing to the UAE in the semifinals of the AFC Asian championship.
The Saudi U-16 team too was edged by Japan in the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup in Tashkent, losing the chance to the World Cup as well.
In team achievements, Al-Ahli won the GCC Champions League after winning 2-0 over Riyadh's Al-Nasr in the final.
Al-Hazm and Al-Wehdah, the only two Saudi representatives in the Arab Champions League (ACL) were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage.
In the local events, only Al-Hilal, Al-Shabab and Al-Nasr shared the glory after winning the cups of the four main local championships.
Al-Hilal kicked off the season with the Crown Prince Cup after edging Al-Ittifaq 2-0 in the final.
Riyadh-based Al-Nasr club came to the crowning stage after being absent for more than 10 years after the team won the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Cup following a 2-1 win over Al-Hilal.
Al-Hilal, however, overcame its defeat against its home rival when the team topped the Saudi Premier League table to win the Cup of the main competition after edging Al-Ittihad 1-0 in the last match of the league.
Al-Shabab concluded the Saudi football season winning the new King's Cup for Champions after beating Al-Ittihad 3-1 in Riyadh.
The year 2008 also witnessed two of the soccer legends honored.
Sami Al-Jaber, Al-Hilal and Saudi Arabia striker, ended his football career at the beginning of 2008 when Al-Hilal hosted Manchester United in a testimonial match in Riyadh. Al-Hilal won the match 3-2.
In another match, Al-Nasr honored its legend Majed Abdullah, the former Saudi captain, with a friendly encounter with Real Madrid that saw Al-Nasr beating the Spanish champion 4-1.
The Saudi soccer turned into a new era of professionalism when the Saudi Premier League was approved by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as one of the few leagues in the continent to apply the new rules and regulations of AFC's vision. With the new structure, the first four teams in the Saudi Premier League will have the chance to play in the AFC Champions League. __

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