Attar makes history for Saudi Arabia at Olympics

By Beatrice McQuiston
August 29, 2012

Can woman still stay true to their religion and cultural values and also have the right to vote? Do they have the right to travel without a man’s consent?

Perhaps for once an inspiring event like Sarah Attar’s story could bring about not just media hype but actual compromise and progression.

This summer the 2012 London Olympic games were the most anticipated and talked about event. A highly watched event during the Olympics was Track and Field.

This year, Saudi Arabia broke its training of male-only teams by entering Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani and Attar in Track and Field. Saudi Arabia along with Qatar and Brunei are the three Islamic countries that allow and brought female athletes to the games. This made it the first Olympics in which every national team includes women.

For centuries sport athletes have been mostly male dominant and our society has favored male sports. The 2012 Olympic games has turned the tables on how female athletes are looked at around the world.

Sarah Attar proved to everyone that female athletes are just as competitive and driven as male athletes. Her strive and dedication to the sport and her country was something that couldn’t be missed.

Attar is a 19-year-old student that ran 800-meter in two minutes, 44.95 seconds.  But to her, the race was not about winning but to represent all the women in Saudi Arabia. She was covered from head to toe in clothing while running the race. She trains as a long-distance runner, but because of her not being in the top of the world elites she had to compete in the shorter distance event.

Attar said in an interview with Associated Press in London that she hopes her competing in the games will spark something in Saudi Arabia to get more involved in sports. Attar also hopes that next Olympics that Saudi Arabia will have a very strong team to come. Her competitors in the race were very supporting of her.

Attar’s willingness to represent such a difficult cause was something that inspired everyone at the Olympics. It was a cause to not just get women from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East to be able to represent their national teams and compete alongside men, it was about promoting women in equal roles.

In the “sport world” this one event in the Olympics will be a turning point that impassions all people to alter their views about women. Athletes in the Middle East will certainly change the way they look at female athletes and female rights in general. The Olympic game change the lives of many people and athletes and competitive sports all around the world will change.

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Beatrice McQuiston

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