Category Archives: Sports

Sunday Morning Escape

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Bike1

You might have visited every city in the country, but if you have not experienced Lebanon by bike then you have definitely been missing out. Three years ago, my friends got me a bike, they were certain that it was going to end up in the garage with layers of dust covering it. To everyone’s surprise, from that day, I have been biking every single weekend.

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Sunday for me, has drastically changed from a lazy day (±200 calories) to the most active day of the week (+2000 calories). On an average, we cover around 60-70 Km per ride, taking anywhere between 3-5 hours, depending on the number of stops we do. Our rides are not competitive, we are not in it to win a championship, but rather escape, be active, enjoy the outdoors and Live Love Lebanon.

When is the best time to go biking?
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My journey starts every Sunday at 6am. I wake up, grab a light breakfast (usually a small sandwich), pack my bike and gear and head out for my ritual ride. The ride usually starts at 8am and ends by 1pm, just in time for Sunday lunch. Before you start, find yourself a biking partner, it’s always more fun and a lot safer when you have someone with you. Every week we set out to discover a new location in the country.

What’s beautiful about bike rides, is that you get to see the places you usually miss out on by car. You can go into the narrow streets, stop and admire anything you find interesting along the way, enjoy the scenery, discover new places and take lots of amazing pictures.

What type of biker are you?

There are plenty of locations to enjoy different types of rides. City rides, sea side rides, mountain rides, uphill rides, and my personal favorites are the offroad rides.

Beginner:
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If you are a beginner, haven’t been on a bike for a long time or panic around cars, I would advise you to stick to relatively closed circuits, where cars aren’t swarming around you, like the Dbayeh Marina, Raouche, Beirut Waterfront or Amchit seaside boulevards.

Average:
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If you are an ok biker like most people, then you can venture a bit and hit the streets, the best place to ride is the on the old sea side road Jbeil – Amchit – Batroun – Anfeh. It’s relatively a straight path with few slopes, not many cars use that road on a Sunday morning, the scenery is breathtaking, and there are many places where you can stop and relax along the way. You can stop at the beach and have a swim, fuel up with a lemonade in the old Batroun souks or even get a glass of beer and chill at Colonel Beer.

Advanced:
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If you are an advanced biker, you can burn few more more calories by riding uphill in the Metn area, starting in Baabdat and moving up to Ain El Sefsaf or even shoot for longer rides in the Bekaa valey from Taanayel to Qaraoun.

Thrill Seeker:

Thrill seekers can go into remote rocky areas in Wata El Joz, Keserwan and enjoy an offroad experience. Of course you need a mountain bike and some extra protection gear to endure the ride.

How much does it cost?
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If you don’t have a bike, you can always purchase one, you don’t need an expensive bike. You can get a mountain bike that works both for city rides and offroad for $500-700. If you don’t want to invest in a bike just yet, there are plenty of bike rentals in Beirut, Gemmayze, Jbeil, Amchit and Batroun. You can rent a bike for as low as 7,000 L.L.

All in All:
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In Lebanon, we have the perfect landscape and weather for outdoor activities. Unfortunately, our roads are in terrible conditions, there are no bike lanes and car drivers have no respect for bikers on the streets. This is the main reason why I bike very early on Sundays, to minimize as much as possible the risks of getting hit by a car and avoid heavy traffic.

With the upcoming municipal elections, electoral programs should focus more on making the cities open and fit for healthier outdoor life, encourage people to go out, be active and use less and less their cars. Of course we can always dream of having a bicycle highway, like the one Germany just opened. It’s a 62 miles bicycle road that connects 10 western cities including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities.

Twelve Things You Always Hear in a Lebanese Basketball Game

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bball

If a team loses, they blame the referee.
If a team wins, the other team’s fans attack them.
If the fans are banned from watching, the players get into a fight.
If the teams don’t like some new rule, they blame the federation.

The sad part is that some referees are terrible and should be fired and the federation is almost as incompetent as all the previous ones. And let’s not forget the 3-foreign players rule which killed the game and turned it into a 3 on 3 between every team’s foreign players. (Sometimes it’s even a 1 on 1).

Here’s Your Chance To Meet World Football Legends in Lebanon

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figo

World football legends might be coming to Lebanon on September 10 to play a game at the Fouad Chehab Sports Stadium in Jounieh.

The final list of players and details of the event will be announced on May 5th during a press conference by the organizing committee. The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism and organized by Arabica sports (part of Arabica Group TV network). The game might be played against stars of the Lebanese Football but that was not decided yet.

I’m sure all football fans, including myself, would love to meet these legends. I will update you with the final lineup as soon as it is announced.

roma

Speaking of Lebanese Football fans and Football legends, a Lebanese AS Roma fan called Bako Karnib got an exclusive chance to meet his idols at Trigoria. He traveled specifically To Rome to get a sight of the players he admires and, after watching the team draw with Bologna last Monday, spent hours each day outside the training ground to get further mementos of his trip.

PS: Thank you Figo29 for the great news and Fouad for the AS Roma story!

Here’s How Beirut’s F1 Grand Prix Would Have Looked Like

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Beirut GP f1

Lebanon almost won the bid to host an F1 track back in 1999. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was fond of the idea and F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting visited Lebanon to inspect the proposed track. His response was also a provisional thumbs-up. “There’s far from a green light at this stage,” he said but “I see nothing today that would stop the project from going through.” The plan was to build a 4.1 KM racing circuit along the Mediterranean coast through the downtown area (Solidere) and there were high hopes that Beirut’s bid to host a Grand Prix would be approved. According to a 2001 BBC article, Solidere were confident that the FIA will give Beirut final approval to stage a Grand Prix and a Solidere delegation was expected to travel to Europe to meet with the FIA and discuss updated plans for the ring.

The Guardian also covered the story and stated that “the formula one circus will soon be heading for what was once the world’s most dangerous city if Beirut’s bid to host a grand prix in 2006 is successful”.

Unfortunately politics got in the way and The Beirut GP has not been heard of since.

beirut gp - Copy

Now the good news is that I finally got a sketch of the Beirut GP from one of the blog’s readers (Thanks a million Georges!) and I found a map entitled “Lebanon F1 Grand Prix” on the website of IDEA, a Beirut-based engineering consultancy firm that was managing the project.

As you can see, the track is absolutely gorgeous and Beirut F1 GP would have been an amazing race to watch! Quoting a 1998 article from the DailyStar, “If all goes as planned, Michael Schumacher could be racing his Ferrari down Minet al-Hosn, making a sharp turn around the Hard Rock Café, then zipping past the St Georges and Phoenicia hotels and through the central district in his quest for the chequered flag”.

schumi Get Well Schumi!

All F1 enthusiasts in Lebanon, including myself of course, still dream of a Grand Prix in Beirut but I don’t think it’s gonna happen anytime. Moreover, even if we get the FIA approval, the country is struggling economically and this is probably the worst time to invest money on a Grand Prix.

Nevertheless, what we can do for now is keep showing the world we love F1 and we will have an opportunity to do so on May 22nd in Beirut during Red Bull’s Showrun that starts from the Wafiq Senno Street, through the Meer Majid Arslan Street, all the way to Ahmed Daouk Street. This road was part of the Beirut F1 circuit proposed.

Beirut Marathon’s Typo (“Strat” Instead of “Start”) Explained

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start

I was earlier today at the Beirut Marathon Youth Race that was taking place in Dbayyeh and the banner at the beginning of the race said “Strat” instead of “Start”. I thought it was a typo at first but it turned out to be a stunt to raise awareness on kids with dyslexia. Ragheb Alameh unveiled the real banner at the start of one of the races.

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I really thought it was a mistake for a second and the comments I got on the picture I shared were hilarious. That’s a brilliant stunt to say the least.

[YouTube]

That was the first time I don’t run in one of Beirut Marathon’s races since it was for kids so I had the chance to meet the founder and president of the BMA and a role model for many Lebanese May El Khalil and our Lebanese Olympian Chirine Njeim, who’s the first Lebanese female to compete in the Marathon distance at the Olympics.

may el khalil

Sagesse (Hekmeh) Players Went on Strike Over Non-Payment of Salary

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hekmeh

I was told by a friend who’s a loyal Sagesse fan that the players have stopped going to practice since Thursday until they get paid. Hekmeh players only got paid once this entire season and the team apparently still owes some players money from last year. The team is currently in 7th position and has lost 7 of its last 9 games.

Hekmeh’s nightmare season doesn’t seem to be getting any better, despite winning the Dubai international basketball tournament earlier this year. The real blame is on the previous management but the newly elected management knew what they were getting into and should have managed things better. A friend told me that sponsors did not pay yet their dues but that’s not something the player should be worried about. How can any team expect his players to perform well if they aren’t getting paid all season long?

Unfortunately, Riyadi is probably the only team that pays his players and staff on time, which means that we have a serious problem in the league, a problem that no one wishes to tackle. Instead of spending millions of dollars on foreign players and leaving the Lebanese players/staff and the team broke, the teams should have a solid financial plan over 3-years at least and properly manage their budget every year. That’s one the many reasons I was against that stupid 3-foreigners rule and things will only get worse now for Lebanese players and the teams.

I’ve always loved and supported Sagesse, even when Ghassan Sarkis was their coach, and it’s truly painful to see them go through such a phase, especially after everything President Choueiry has done to help Sagesse reach an international level and win Arab and Asian cup titles. More importantly, Sagesse fans are among the most loyal and dedicated fans and they deserve better than that.

All in all, there are two major problems in Lebanon’s basketball and they are not going away anytime soon with the current federation and team officials:
– The intervention of politics and religion in the sports, which was perfectly documented by Rayanne Moussallem two years ago.
– The incompetence of most Lebanese Basketball officials, which is mainly due to the intervention of politics and religion, add to that wide-spread corruption.

An Epic Mistake From Al Mustaqbal Newspaper

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Not only did they include Hekmeh twice in the Lebanese Basketball League table, but they mistakenly took out Riyadi (Sporting) and put Hekmeh (Sagesse) in the lead. On another note, what’s up with the total at the end? Who cares about the total of games and point played?

Good job Mustaqbal! You made every Hekmeh fan’s day. Come to think of it, that’s the only way Sagesse will ever get to the top of the league this year lol!

Jad RIcha Originally Spotted by Jad Richa

Lebanese Goalkeeper Hassan Bittar Suspected Of Match-Fixing by FIFA

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match

The football game between Al-Ahed Beirut and Altyn Astyn from Turkmenistan was flagged as a “suspicious match” in FIFA’s anti-corruption system and Al Ahed’s goalkeeper is suspected of match-fixing following his horrendous goalkeeping mistake.

If you look closely at the video, you will understand why. The goalkeeper seems to be looking away when the ball came to him and even if he didn’t do that on purpose, he could have easily reached the ball before it went in. It looks like he really wanted that goal lol!

I wouldn’t be surprised if the match was fixed. To be honest, I’ve lost hope in Lebanese football a long time ago, especially after 24 players, including members of the National Team, as well as were charged of involvement in the match-fixing scandal.

Let’s wait and see what FIFA decides.

[YouTube]

Thank u Nady!

#Rio2016: Chirine Njeim First Lebanese Olympian Lady to Compete in the Marathon Distance

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Chirine

Chirine Njeim is one of Lebanon’s best alpine skiers and has represented Lebanon at the 2002, 2006 and the 2010 Winter Olympics. This year, she is taking part in the Rio 2016 Marathon race and will be the first lady to represent Lebanon in that distance. Chirine was one of the elite athletes at the 2015 Beirut Marathon and will be running at the Youth race on April 10. She’s also one of the very few athletes to participate in both in Summer and Winter Olympics.

I tried looking for her name or Lebanese athletes on the Rio2016 website, which is horrible by the way, but I couldn’t find anything. I will try to look for further info and mention all the Lebanese athletes taking part in the Olympics in another post.

Historically speaking, Lebanon has only missed 1 Summer Olympic Games back in 1956 and it was a boycott not because no one qualified.

Good luck Chirine!

chirine bm

Lebanese Basketball: Foreign Players Scoring Almost 70% Of Total Points

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Lebanese (bench warming) players via SportsCode

Back in October 2015, I criticized the decision to allow three foreigners players to play in Lebanese Basketball teams and said that it would kill local talent and would destroy the game for the years to come. FLB President Walid Nassar should have never taken that decision and the outcome is as expected. Foreign players are scoring on average 70% of all points and Lebanese players not being given enough time to prove themselves.

I looked at the game stats for the past 8 rounds and computed the average of points scored by foreigners every game for every team. Riyadi, the only team that objected to the 3-foreigners rule was the only team with foreigners scoring less than 50% (assuming Ismail Ahmad is Lebanese of course). Even if we count Ismail as a foreign player, the percentage will be around 52%, which is still better than any other team.

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As you can see from the table above, Riyadi is the only team where Lebanese players score more than 50% of the score. Byblos come second with 58%, followed by Homenetmen and Hoops. The teams where foreigners score the most (Above 75%) are Tadamon and Moutahed. There’s one game where Moutahed foreign players scored 90% of the point!

worst 2 teams (1)

best 2 teams (1)

All in all, if the aim from allowing 3 foreign players is to increase competitiveness, lower budgets and allow Lebanese players to improve, it failed miserably. Adding a foreign player will only decrease Lebanese players’ salaries and discourage young talents from joining any team.

Believing in the improvement of Lebanese players is somewhat true as they would be learning from more experienced foreign players. But this only seems to apply during training and not during games. The presence of 3 foreign players on the roster has benched talented Lebanese players and created a huge shadow over local players. In fact, if we look at the top scorers in the league, all of them are foreign players. There are barely any Lebanese even in the top rebounds and assists stats.

Over the weekend 3 different games were held:

– Mouttahed vs. Tadamon
– Sagesse vs. Hoops
– Byblos vs. Riyadi

For each of the teams here is the percentage of points scored by foreigners:

– Mouttahed => 54 out of 78 (69.2%)
– Tadamon => 67 out of 81 (82.7%)
– Sagesse => 66 out of 87 (75.9%)
– Hoops => 50 out of 82 (61%) because of 17 points game by Ali Mezher.
– Byblos => 37 out of 75 (50%) because of an amazing performance by Ali Barada with 19 points.
– Riyadi => 28 out of 66 (42.4%).

As you can see, unless a local talent has a breakout performance, the presence of 3 foreigners takes up 70% if not more of the points scored in a single game.

PS: All stats were taken from the [Lebanese Basketball App].

Thanks Chadi for the help!