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Fri Apr 18 03:34:03 SAST 2014

Saudi Arabia's only female Olympian pulls out of Games

Sapa-dpa | 26 June, 2012 12:410 Comments
Olympic officials and the media admire a large set of Olympic Rings, created with at least 20,000 flowers and plants in Kew Gardens on April 18, 2012 in London, England
Image by: Oli Scarff / Getty Images

The only female Saudi Arabian athlete to have qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games in London, show jumper Dalma Malhas, has had to pull out due to an injury to her horse, local media reported Tuesday.

The report in Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq comes only a day after it was revealed that Saudi King Abdullah had decided to permit female athletes to join the country’s Olympic delegation for the first time.

“The decision to allow Saudi women to take part in overseas competitions, especially the London Olympic Games, made me very happy,” Malhas’ mother Arwa al-Matbaqani was quoted in Al-Sharq.

“But I am sad that my daughter Dalma will not be taking part in this great event,” al-Matbaqani continued. “I had looked forward to her winning a medal and bringing glory to Saudi Arabia.”  Until now, Saudi women were forbidden from participating in any public sporting events. Calls for change were strongly resisted by many religious scholars in the kingdom, where the puritanical Wahhabi school of Islam holds sway.

King Abdullah’s reported decision came amid speculation that the entire Saudi delegation could be barred from the Olympics if the kingdom kept its ban on women athletes.

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