Andhra shuttler, Kerala girl win 1 million riyals each and gold medals in first Saudi Games

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Jeddah: A young Andhra badminton player made a strong impact in the ongoing Saudi Games, the prestigious national games of oil rich Saudi Arabia known for its passion for football. The young shuttler Mohammed Mehad Shah won the gold medal in men’s single category and a cash prize of one million saudi riyals.

The badminton competition is organised as part of the first edition of the Saudi games, the largest national sports event of its kind on Friday at King Fahd Stadium in Riyad in the presence of Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Government of the Riyadh region, as well as the Saudi public in a grand ceremony.

Mehad Shah along with other winners were honored by Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, the vice president of the Saudi Olympic Committee and director of the Saudi Games. He was also greeted by Muqrin Al-Muqrin, chairman of the Saudi Badminton Federation and Mai Obaid Al-Rasheed, vice president of the Saudi Badminton Federation.

Participants were competing for a grand total of more than SR 200 million and gold medal winners would receive SR one million, and silver-medal winners awarded SR300,000 and SR100,000 respectively. This is the highest prize money dedicated to the sports sector in the history of the region.

The 17-year old native of Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh, who was born and brought up in Riyadh and a student of 11th class at New Middle East International School, has told ‘Telangana Today’ that his aim was to win medals for Saudi Arabia in Olympics and other international tournaments. Mehad Shah said that the coaching which he takes at Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad was helpful to achieve success.

Excited Mehad, who performed Umrah, along with his parents immediately after winning the Gold Medal also thanked his school sports director and trainers. “When I was receiving the gold medal from Prince Fahd, I remembered the days when I was struggling to find a partner to play with me in the badminton court”, he said.

He has been playing the game from 5th standard and his elder brother Faisal Shah also used to play the sport in Riyadh. Faisal is now pursuing medicine in India. Mehad’s sister Khateeja is also studying medicine back home in India. Mehad Shah’s parents, Shahid and Shakera Begum both are engineers.

The only other Indian winner is Kadeeja Kothoor, who also won the gold medal and a million-riyal prize money in women’s single category of badminton. She is also 17 years old and studying in the same school as Mehad. Kadeeja is a native of Kozhikode in Kerala also born and brought up in Riyadh in a family of full badminton athletes.

When she started playing at the age of eight years everyone was expecting that she would make a difference in the game one day which she did, said Latheef, father, who himself is a badminton player. Kadeeja’s other siblings are also badminton players.

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