MAKKAH: Saudi sports star Abdulmohsen Khalaf Al-Muwallad has been officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest professional basketball player.
He played his first game for Ohod Club in 1979 and, after spending 36 years with the Madinah-based team, he was 51 years and 335 days old when he played his final game on May 22, 2015.
Al-Muwallad, who was born in Madinah in 1963, said he offers his achievement as a gift to the Kingdom’s leadership and the great Saudi people.
He said that the longevity of his career was in part thanks to the support he had received from family, friends, officials and the media, who encouraged him throughout his career. He also said he had continually trained and worked hard to maintain high levels of fitness, and used to ask permission to practice alone outside of formal training sessions. He also avoided late nights and did not smoke, he added, because they are bad habits that often cut sporting careers short.
Al-Muwallad, who graduated from the university in 1990 and works as a physical education teacher in Madinah, added that players should not neglect their education in their pursuit of sporting success.
The idea of applying for the world record arose several years ago when it was suggested by friend and colleague Abdul Badi Larry, said Al-Muwallad, but he did not act on it right away as he was still focused on his playing career. In 2018, another friend, Ali Al-Saadi, raised the idea again and, after the Saudi Arabian Basketball Federation helped by providing supporting evidence, his record was confirmed.
He said the popularity of basketball in Madinah had grown in the early days as a result of the poor quality of soccer in the city.
“We, the Ohod club, were able to win the league and the cup for eight consecutive years, in addition to various Gulf cups, which increased the interest in the game,” he added.
Al-Muwallad won a number of awards and honors during his time at Ohod Club, including local, regional and Asian titles. He also scored an incredible 82 points in a single game when he was a teenager.
“Basketball was different when I started playing,” he said. “Team play was more dominant back then. Sport … is very different now; dedicated media and TV channels were not a thing in my early days. I am hoping younger generations make use of what they have nowadays.”
Known as “Mohsen,” Al-Muwallad began his playing career in the first junior league in Saudi Arabia, which was established in 1979, and his team bagged third place. The same year, he won three championships at city level and one at Olympic level.
Quickly promoted to the first team, Mohsen enjoyed many years of success during which he helped his side win 15 First League Championships, 14 cups, three Alnokhbah Championships, four Gulf Championships, and third place in the Arab Basketball Championship in Lebanon.
He was selected for the Saudi national team in 1986, at the age of 20, and retired from international duty in 2005.
Individual honors he received include six Best Saudi Player awards. He also received the FIBA Asia Cup for his contributions to the growth of the sport, and was honored by the Oman Basketball Association as the oldest player participating in the Gulf Cup in 2013, and by the Arab Federation of Basketball in 2014 in Rabat for the same reason.
In the Alnokhbah Championship, the Elite Championship, in 2004 he won the award for Championship Top Scorer and the Most Triple Scores, as well as Best Saudi Player in the tournament and Best Player in the final. He wrapped up the year with an award for Best Player in the Arab Police Basketball Tournament in Riyadh.
“To be recognized by Guinness World Records is a proud moment and an honor for me as a Saudi and as an Arab,” he said.
Guinness World Records, the global authority on record-breaking achievements, confirmed Al-Muwallad’s achievement shortly after naming Ezzeldin Bahader as the world’s oldest active soccer player. He played for 6th of October Club in Cairo, Egypt, at the age of 74 years and 125 days.