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Thu Apr 24 01:46:26 SAST 2014

Saudi women's historic bow over in 82 seconds

Sapa-AFP | 03 August, 2012 12:120 Comments
Saudi Arabia's Wojdan Shaherkani reacts during her women's +78kg elimination round of 32 judo match against Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 3, 2012
Image by: Darren Staples / REUTERS

Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani became the first ever female Saudi athlete to compete at the Olympic Games on Friday, but her historic debut lasted just 82 seconds.

Looking nervous and wearing a swimming cap-style head covering, she was beaten by Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico in the first round of the women’s under-78kg category.

“I’m glad and honoured to participate in the Olympic Games and I will continue to practice this sport,” she told AFP after her fleeting visist to the tatami at the Excel Centre.

Heavyweight Shaherkani was only given the go-ahead Tuesday to fight at the Olympics after a row over the wearing of a hijab was resolved.

The Saudis had threatened to pull the 18-year-old fighter out of the Games if she was forced to compete with her head uncovered.

However, a compromise has been found and on Friday she appeared on the mat sporting a tight-fitting, black cap.

Shaherkani was one of two women sent from the conservative kingdom to an Olympics for the first time, but the Saudis only agreed on condition that their athletes respect a strict dress code.

The second competitor is American-raised 800m runner Sarah Attar who grew up mostly in California, where she took up cross country running.

Attar appears without a headscarf in her official London 2012 photo.

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Saudi women's historic bow over in 82 seconds

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