Prince Khaled launches skating world championships in Sharjah

Prince Khaled launches skating world championships in Sharjah
Prince Khaled launches skating world championships in Sharjah

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - SHARJAH: The Street World Championship 2022 today kicks off at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah after the opening ceremony on Saturday night was attended by some of the world’s best skaters and Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada, developers of the competition’s spectacular new venue.

The competition runs until Feb. 5 and will immediately be followed by the Park World Championship 2022 from Feb. 5-12. Both act as qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“Over the next two weeks, Aljada Skate Park will be hosting the biggest-ever international skateboarding event that has been organized by the sport’s governing body, World Skate,” said Prince Khaled, a long-time supporter of the development of the sport in the Arab world. “Over 460 elite athletes from 63 countries are coming to Sharjah to showcase their skills in one of the planet’s fastest-growing sports.”

Prince Khaled highlighted the caliber of the 450-strong field that includes the likes of Momiji Nishiya, who won the first-ever gold medal in the women’s street skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics aged just 13; and Rayssa Leal, the 15-year-old Brazilian skateboarder with 6.4 million Instagram followers who won silver in the women’s street skateboarding also at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Taking place over 12 days, these two back-to-back events are an important part of the qualifying process for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which is why all 12 medal winners from the most recent Olympic Games in Tokyo have flown into the UAE to take part,” Prince Khaled said.

The ceremony was also attended by Sabatino Aracu, president of World Skate, and was presented by journalist Maya Hojeij to the backdrop of traditional Emirati performances.

“A huge amount of preparation has gone into this event, and it’s great to be here on the ground today and watch the world’s top skaters in action,” Prince Khaled added.

Quarterfinals for the park event will take place on Friday, Feb. 3, with the semifinals on Feb. 4 and the final the following day. Quarterfinals for the street event will take place on Friday, Feb. 10, followed by the semifinals on Feb. 11, and the final on Sunday. Qualifiers for each event will take place during the week.

The two competitions in Sharjah represent the first time skateboarding events of this size and importance have been held anywhere in the Middle East.

“The events have the biggest prize pot of any world skate event so far, with $500,000 to be shared between the winning skaters,” said Prince Khaled.

“This is also one of the few locations in the world where both disciplines, street and park, can be held in the same place, which is why the events are being held back-to-back between Jan. 29 and Feb. 12 in Aljada, Sharjah.”

Hosting tournaments of this stature, Prince Khaled says, should also benefit skaters from the region and other nations where the sport is still nascent.

“The fact that Sharjah is playing host to this event means more opportunities for skaters from countries where the sport is not so established to take part. We’re seeing great representation from the Middle East, with skaters from Bahrain, Oman and Morocco all taking part, and it’s also the first time that athletes from Zambia and Mozambique compete at this level.”

Since its opening, Aljada Skate Park has already become a major attraction for hundreds of skateboarding enthusiasts from the UAE who participate in weekly local competitions. It is a central feature in Madar, the Aljada community’s entertainment district, which has been designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

“Aljada Skate Park is not just the biggest park in the Middle East, more importantly, it’s the most creative and best-designed,” said Prince Khaled. “The whole complex is located on a 90,000 square foot area, spread over six separate parks, including Olympic-standard street and park sections.

“These include a whole range of features taken from some of the most famous parks in the world, from the US to Australia, and including the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo where the Olympic Games were held,” he added. “In short, there’s something for every skater, with beginner…and intermediate sections as well as the prophase of the park.”

“It’s the ideal place for skaters of all ages to have the freedom to enjoy and express themselves in a safe, purpose-built environment. This approach is in line with Arada’s overarching aim, which is to deliver communities that have truly world-class facilities that inspire both residents and visitors.”

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