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Saudi woman takes slow lane into track history

Published Aug 08, 2012 12:39pm

Sarah Attar. -Photo by AP

LONDON: Middle distance runner Sarah Attar made history on Wednesday, becoming the first female athlete to represent Saudi Arabia in Olympics track and field - but limped home a distant last in her heat.

Attar, one of two women sent to the London Games by Saudi Arabia, timed 2 minutes 44.95sec in heat six of round one of the 800m, nearly 44sec behind Kenya's Janeth Busienei (2:01.04).

Wearing a white hood, long-sleeved green top and black leggings, the 19-year-old student described appearing in the Olympics as “an incredible experience.”

"It is the hugest honour to be here to represent the women of Saudi Arabia,” said Attar, born and raised in the United States.

“It is a historic moment. I hope it will make a difference. It is a huge step forward. It's a really incredible experience.”

Attar's run in London comes just days after Saudi team-mate Wojdan Shaherkani appeared in the judo competition, with her historic debut lasting just 82 seconds.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are all fielding female participants in the Olympics for the first time this year.