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Saudi woman takes slow lane into track history

Published Aug 08, 2012 12:39pm


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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.


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Comments (32) Closed

Agha Ata Aug 08, 2012 01:52pm
Tears come into my eyes when I see these girls whose childhood was snatched, their girlhood suppressed along with its desire to compete, to run, to laugh and to play; the natural desires in off springs of any animal, bird or a reptile and human being except among Studies. It reminds me of an elephant who was considered insane and had to be chained for hundred years (or maybe 50 years), when the doctors found that he was cured, and they unchained him. But it took him another 100 years (or maybe 50 years) to stand up and walk. Sarah Attar, Wojdan Shaherkani and girls from Qatar and Brunei are truly great women. I would make statues of them in every Muslim country to be remembered in history, if I could.
m khan Aug 09, 2012 06:14am
For her to just be there is a victory of sorts , we are talking about Saudi Arabia . well done young lady.
Rev. Eldrick Lal Aug 08, 2012 04:07pm
These Muslim women deserve a huge and warm welcome in their homelands. They fought gallantry, and they will win many accolades for their nattion. They also deserve a standing ovation.
chill Aug 08, 2012 06:37pm
dude, chill, it's not that big of a deal...
Bakhtawer Bilal Aug 08, 2012 06:54pm
No one can stop change. It is inevitable. Saudi women had to be in a full cover which included face and hands, before they step outside their door. But lately, on a recent visit to Riyadh it was refreshing to note that 75% of them were not covering their face and were not being threatened by mutawwa the religious police. Now those who want to cover are covering, while those who do not want, can go around without covering their face. So far it is true for larger cities. Interestingly the trend is reversing in Pakistan. As long as no one faction forces their way onto the other, it is ok.
G.a Aug 08, 2012 07:58pm
Who are men to decide women's fate in Muslim societies? Is it ordained by God or the mullah? Just wondering in light of the fact that Islam gave women freedom and right of inheritance and the fact that, in Islam, there is no compulsion in religion.
Ali Aug 08, 2012 08:15pm
Probably you need professional help buddy. what so great about it.
MJK Aug 08, 2012 08:35pm
lol honestly agha ur tryna be extra soppy here... women in those countries live a happy life... just because they dress up decent doesnt make them chained... they can still do anything good they want..
Mustafa Razavi Aug 08, 2012 08:47pm
Agha Ata; Save those alligator tears for a hundred million girls around her age in South Asia who have already labored at menial jobs for half their lives.
Syed Aug 08, 2012 09:21pm
A chinese guy once said, "history always remembers the first ones". these women are making way for the champions of the future. they deserve the praise.
sara Aug 08, 2012 09:53pm
u dont live in ksa ? do u ? stop giving ppl the wrong image of muslim countries,participating in olympics in not the end of the world,saudi women r doing far better than that insane elephant of yours,do u know they own 52 percent of land in saudia arabia,they r working in Nasa, leading peadriatric centre (world famous one) in san fransisco,olayan group is one of the biggest buisness empire in middle east ,owned by a saudi women,pls check yo ur updates before insulting any country ,as u may be hurting many and portraying wrong image of muslims in this world ,thanku .
nuzhat Aug 08, 2012 10:17pm
agha ata ,pls wake up ,get alive bro,women r doing great,far much better than the insane elephant of your story,olympics participation is nothing much,they r doing far more than that,pls kindly keep your views unbiased ,the women of these countries r working in Nasa ,did inventions in surgical instruments,leading olayan group of middle east is owned by a saudi women and there is so much more to their credit,therefore pls reconsider your views ,thanku
saleem Aug 08, 2012 11:01pm
nice words Agha
Aminah Rafiq Aug 08, 2012 11:21pm
You received so many Negative comments. Expected, its our newspaper, its our Pakistan. I hope one day we will be able to stand with our Men, and not beneath them. alas.
sal Aug 08, 2012 11:36pm
@Agha Ata what are you talking about? what snatched? she was born and raised in USA?
Rao Aug 09, 2012 01:56am
Agha jee, you are getting over sentimental.
naseem butt Aug 09, 2012 02:03am
I hope Talban should also learn lesson from this event and give credit to Soudia Arabia for showing some liberalism .Are they going to kill every liberal as they threatened Imran Khan ?Do they have any ageda to progress like U.S orChina?
rehan Aug 09, 2012 02:13am
your pathetic. i feel sorry for you rather
Hammad Virk Aug 09, 2012 02:34am
Still can't drive in her Country.
Bilal Aug 09, 2012 03:02am
What an absurd comment... Agha Ata,
MAU Aug 09, 2012 04:39am
@ agha....dude you are insane...get a med chekup!
ahmet abdulaziz Aug 09, 2012 04:39am
very true
Noor Aug 09, 2012 04:58am
I totally agree with this soulful comment.Let's celebrate the "unchaining" and strive to shorten "Up & Running " period for them.
ISRAR Aug 09, 2012 05:26am
Agha Ata Aug 09, 2012 05:49am
Maybe all of you are right, but women in Saudi Arabia cannot even go out of their homes without a man escort, they are not allowed to drive a car, and these lucky ones who came to Olympics (with their fathers) are the ones who were allowed to participate because the pressure of the International Olympic committee who threatened Saudi Arabia that their teams will be banned, if they don’t send any female players. I hope I am wrong but that is the truth everyone knows. Incidentally, have you ever seen a Saudi girl participating in International Olympics before?
AHK Aug 09, 2012 08:28am
Ask majority of women, even expats. They prefer not to drive.
AHK Aug 09, 2012 08:33am
Excellent answer Sara. People form uninformed opinions about things. I encountered a Britisher in Speakers' Corner last month who was criticizing Islam by saying that men oppress their women. My wife was with me so I went into the ring of listeners and challenged him. He made three statements and I countered them so he started addressing somebody else. I asked him whether he was going to talk to me and he said no.
peace lover Aug 09, 2012 09:09am
they are never given an option
H Q Aug 09, 2012 10:10am
running in olympics. wow. what a big achievement. I think all the women in the world, not just Saudi arabia, including those who commented on this thread, should start running in olympics. after all, its a sign of freedom... to waste time in olympics. i bet hardly anyone of the commentators knows who's representing who in olympics, but when it comes to Saudi women, they're extraordinarily concerned.
Gerry D'Cunha Aug 09, 2012 10:46am
We should not criticize for the sake of criticism. Hats of to Saudia Arabia for sending their girls and participating in International Olympics for the first time.
Syed Shah Aug 09, 2012 11:31am
With so much of wealth they could be the number one nation in the world and bag a lot of medals. If not the first they can be the third position in medals tally. They can develop facilities and training to get so many golds.
AHA Aug 09, 2012 12:32pm
@Agha Ata - You get my Thumbs Up. Seems you rubbed our insensitive side.