Mon, September 23, 2013

Saudi female athletes to compete in Olympics

By SPORTS NETWORK


The London 2012 Olympic Athletes Village is pictured through the Olympic Rings in east London, on July 12, 2012. The 2012 Olympic games will begin on July 27, 2012. (Leon Neal/AFP)

LONDON, ENGLAND - For the first time in Olympic history, every country that is competing will have a woman participant.

Thursday, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that Saudi Arabia will be sending two female athletes to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani will compete in judo, and Sarah Attar will run the 800 meters in track and field. This follows an earlier announcement that Brunei and Qatar, two other countries yet to send female athletes, will also send women to the upcoming Summer Games.

"A big inspiration for participating in the Olympic Games is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going," Attar said. "It's such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some big strides for women over there to get more involved in sport."

Brunei has entered Maziah Mahusin (athletics), while Qatar has entered Nada Arkaji (swimming), Noor Al-Malki (athletics), Aya Magdy (table tennis) and Bahiya Al-Hamad (shooting) into these Olympics. Additionally, Al-Hamad will carry her country's flag during the opening ceremonies.

"I'm overwhelmed to have been asked to carry the Qatari flag at the Opening Ceremony," Al-Hamad said. "It's a truly historic moment for all athletes."

Just 16 years ago, at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, 26 countries had yet to include females in their delegations. That figure was just three four years ago in Beijing.

With the addition of women's boxing in London, this will mark the first time women will compete in every sport in the 116-year history of the modern Olympic Games.