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Standing ovation for first Saudi female athlete to compete in Olympics

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Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar (centre) waves to the crowd in the Olympic Stadium as she lines up in heat six of the women's 800m this morning

Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Attar (centre) waves to the
crowd in the Olympic Stadium as she lines up in heat six of the women’s
800m this morning
They say in the Olympics it’s not the winning that counts, but the taking part. And
that was certainly the case as Sarah Attar, the first
female track athlete to compete for Saudi Arabia in the Olympics, was
cheered every step of the way in her 800m heat. 
In
the end, she completed the two laps of the track nearly 45 seconds
behind the winner, but her participation alone represented an historic
moment.
Dressed in a long-sleeved green
training top, long jogging bottoms and a white hijab, she certainly
stood out on the start line in sweltering heat in the Olympic Stadium. 
And
it was quickly obvious that Attar wasn’t going to be able to keep pace
with the rest of the field as she fell a long way behind. 
But
whatever the sport, Olympic crowds love a plucky trier and Attar was
given a standing ovation as she crossed the finish line, almost a full
lap behind the others. 
Her time of two minutes 44.95
seconds was a long way behind that recorded by the winner, Kenya’s
Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei, who ran two minutes 01.04 seconds. 
It doesn’t matter though, because Attar is making history as one half of the first ever women’s team to represent Saudi Arabia.
Speaking after the race, she said:
‘It is such an honour to be representing Saudi Arabia. Hopefully this
can make such a huge difference. 
‘It was such a unique opportunity [to
represent Saudi Arabia], they invited me and welcomed me and to make
that first step for women is just the most amazing feeling ever.’
The Saudi Olympic Committee overturned a ban on women athletes in June despite strong opposition from many quarters of society.  
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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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