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Prince Khaled hails ‘amazing first week’ as Aurelien Giraud and Rayssa Leal win gold at skate champs opener in Sharjah

SHARJAH: France’s skateboarder Aurelien Giraud has won the men’s Street 2022 World Championships at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah, while Brazil’s 15-year-old Rayssa Leal claimed gold in the women’s event.

The Street and Park world championships are being co-organized by World Skate and the UAE-based master developer Arada.

Both events, which run until Feb. 12 at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah, act as qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

“We’ve had an amazing first week and as you would expect from a world championships, the standard has been incredibly high, the support has been loud and colorful and the emotions have run high,” said Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, vice chairman of Arada, developers of the competition’s new venue.

“During the Street finals, as you’ve seen, it was exciting to see Aurelien Giraud from France and Rayssa Leal from Brazil take gold in the men’s and women’s events respectively. Judging by the tears and celebrations it was obvious how much it meant to them to win in Sharjah, and it was a really riveting competition.”

“From a wider perspective, it’s been a truly multicultural event, with spectators and athletes from 63 nations around the world, most of them travelling to the Middle East for the first time,” he added. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the athletes, fans, and our partners at World Skate.”

A dramatic Sunday in the men’s Street saw Giraud out of the medal positions entering his fourth attempt in the final’s trick section, where a stunning backside 360 claimed 91.48 points and, ultimately, gold. Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro earned silver with 267.38 points — not quite enough to beat Giraud’s 269.33 total — while 12-year-old Japanese sensation Onodera Ginwoo took bronze through his 263.04 score.

The women’s final proved incredibly close, with Leal — whose top run of 83.32 was added to with best trick scores of 85.04 and 87.22 — earning 255.58 points to claim gold. It was a total enough to edge out 12-year-old Australian Chloe Covell’s 253.51 and Japan’s Momiji Nishiya’s 253.30 into silver and bronze. Even more impressively, Leal triumphed despite heavy strapping on a wrist injury sustained during a fall in practice earlier in the week.

With the Street competition over, the action moved swiftly onto the Park Championship, and Prince Khaled believes both events will have a long-term influence on the sport in the region.

“These championships have already witnessed impressive worldwide coverage and have really helped to put Sharjah and Aljada on the map as a new heavyweight destination for skateboarding globally,” he said. “The Park competition is getting underway now, wrapping up on Sunday Feb. 12, so the eyes of the skateboarding world are still very much on the UAE.”

“Skateboarding is one of the fastest-growing sports globally but I think it’s fair to say that the bigger competitions have generally been based in North and South America, Australia, Europe and Japan, where the sport is already well-known and popular,” said Prince Khaled. “For any sport to become truly global, it needs to come to places like the Middle East, and that’s exactly what we’ve done with these events.”

Prince Khaled said the competitions are just the beginning for Arada, and he looks forward to continuing the developer’s partnership with World Skate in the near future.

“A major focus for us going forward will be improving the number of local skaters taking part,” he said. “While we’ve had great representation from Bahrain, Oman and Morocco, the presence of a world-class facility like the Aljada Skate Park is really going to help local skaters take the next step to compete at the highest level and maybe even stand on the podium one day.”

Prince Khaled also revealed his delight at handing the winners their medals in Sharjah. “From a personal perspective, my work at the Saudi Sports for All Federation gives me a lot of opportunities to be engaged at every level with athletics; I don’t think there’s anything more invigorating,” he said.

“To award these globally relevant athletes the medals at Aljada, our community, gave me a lot of pride. To see everyone on (the) ground living this huge moment together, that’s what creating communities is really about.

“To date, Aljada has welcomed thousands of people to watch the Olympic skateboarding qualifiers, and the athletes felt our energy, they knew we were rooting for them and holding our breath during the most difficult segments,” said Prince Khaled.

Men’s Street 2022 World Championships final points results:

Aurelien Giraud, 269.33 (France)

Gustavo Ribeiro, 267.38 (Portugal)

Ginwoo Onodera, 263.04 (Japan)

Kelvin Hoefler, 248.59 (Brazil)

Richard Tury, 245.52 (Slovakia)

Jagger Eaton, 179.15 (US)

Chris Joslin, 179.08 (US)

Sora Shirai, 155.78 (Japan)

Women’s Street 2022 World Championships final results:

Rayssa Leal, 255.58 (Brazil)

Chloe Covell, 253.51 (Australia)

Momiji Nishiya, 253.30 (Japan)

Rizu Akama, 251.91 (Japan)

Funa Nakayama, 240.79 (Japan)

Gabriela Mazetto, 221.45 (Brazil)

Paige Heyn, 211.71 (US)

Pamela Rosa, 126.52 (Brazil)


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