7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Sports News

Becker for F1 celebrity race

THREE-TIME Wimbledon champion Boris Becker will be the star attraction along with other sporting icons Michael Johnson, Lance Armstrong and Sir Steve Redgrave at the celebrity race during the Gulf Air Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 10, 11 and 12. Top Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama will lead top cultural celebrities in the same race.

The celebrities will race the first five laps of the 10-lap event on March 11 and 12. Top motor sports drivers from Bahrain and the Gulf region will then take over the wheel for the remaining five laps.

But the final format of the event is yet to be finalised.

The celebrity winner of the race will have the honour of waving the chequered flag at the end of the Formula One race on March 12.

The BIC is planning to have eight international celebrities and eight more from GCC countries for a grid of 16 cars.

"Our aim is to make the Bahrain Grand Prix the most memorable one," said BIC general manager Martin Whitaker.

"We are planning a three-day sporting-cum-cultural extravaganza and we want everyone attending the event to remember it for a long, long time."

The celebrity race is just one of a long list of events planned for the middle-of-March event at the home of motor sports in the Middle East.

The build up for the event has already moved into top gear and a BIC delegation on a five-country Middle East tour to promote the event.

"The response so far has been tremendous from all sides - the spectators, corporates, sponsors and everyone else," added Whitaker.

"The celebrity race is just one of many side attractions we are planning.

"The cultural side of Bahrain will be showcased like never before. We will also have on display the Kingdom's heritage and its natural beauty.

"Yalla Bahrain! is a special slogan we have coined for the event and it will ring out whenever the Kingdom's name is mentioned on the world sporting arena."

The four sporting icons - Armstrong, Becker, Johnson and Redgrave - who have already confirmed their participation are expected to add another colourful angle to the three-day extravaganza.

All four are living legends. Armstrong is a seven-time Tour de France winner, Johnson of the US entered the record books winning the 200 and 400m Olympic gold at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 while Becker is the youngest to win the Wimbeldon - as an unseeded 17-year-old in 1985.

The German won the Wimbledon two more times in 1986 and 1989 apart from being the World No 1 when in his peak.

Redgrave is the only person to win a gold medal at five successive Olympics - he won his first rowing gold at the Los Angeles Olymics in 1984 and completed his tally at the Sydney Games in 2000.

The 43-year-old also claimed nine gold, two silver and a bronze at the world championships between 1986 and 1999.

The 34-year-old Armstrong, on the other hand, is also known for his cancer foundation and other charity work.

The Texan's story can make an Oscar winning script for his successful struggle against testicular cancer before going on to win the most gruelling sporting event on the planet for a record seven times.

Alama is also a name to reckon with as one of the most popular Arabic singers. The 43-year-old Lebanese has appeared in many musical festivals and won a platinum award for his acclaimed album Albi A'she 'aha and Egypt's Oscar for Alantini.

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