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Thu Apr 17 17:29:56 SAST 2014

Obama applauds Muslim women Olympians

Sapa-AFP | 11 August, 2012 10:050 Comments
Olympics Day 12 - Athletics
Sarah Attar of Saudi Arabia competes in the Women's 800m Round 1 Heats on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2012 in London, England
Image by: Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

US President Barack Obama on Friday celebrated women athletes from Muslim nations who are making their debut in the Olympics as he marked the holy month of Ramadan.

“Here in America, we are incredibly proud of Team USA,” Obama said, noting that a majority of the American delegation to the London Olympics were female.

“Also, for the very first time in Olympic history, every team now includes a woman athlete — one of the reasons is that every team from a Muslim majority country now includes women as well,” Obama said, in a dinner grouping prominent members of the US Muslim community.

“That is worth applauding,” Obama said, as his audience in the State Dining Room of the White House for the annual Iftar dinner started to clap.

Among athletes making history in London was middle distance runner  who made history by becoming the first female athlete to represent Saudi Arabia in Olympics track and field.

Attar, one of two women sent to the London Games by Saudi Arabia finished a distant last in the 800m, nearly 44sec behind Kenya’s Janeth Busienei.

But Attar, 19, who wore a white hood, long-sleeved green top and black leggings, described appearing in the Olympics as “an incredible experience.”  “It is a historic moment. I hope it will make a difference. It is a huge step forward. It’s a really incredible experience,” said Attar, who was born and raised in the United States.

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

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