Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Escondido High School graduate Sarah Attar today became the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in track and field in the Olympics and the second in any sport.
The 19-year-old ran in the sixth and final heat of the women's 800 meters in London. She finished last and did not advance to Thursday's semifinals.
"A big inspiration for participating in the 2012 Olympics for me is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going,'' Attar said last month after her entry was confirmed by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.
"It's such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some good strides for women over there to get more involved in the sport.''
The rights of women are seriously circumscribed in Muslim Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women may not drive.
Attar was born in Escondido but holds dual citizenship through her father.
Attar ran in two meets for Pepperdine University in 2012, finishing 12th in her heat of the 1,500 meters in the Cal State Fullerton Ben Brown Invitational in five minutes, 30.51 seconds March 10 and 29th in the 3,000 meters in Spring Break Invitational March 24 at UC Irvine in 11:37.41.
Attar, an art major, was named to the West Coast Conference's Commissioner's Honor Roll the past two years and was an honorable mention selection to the conference's All-Academic team for cross country in 2011.
"Sarah is a wonderful Pepperdine student who works hard in all she does,'' Waves coach Robert Radnoti said.
Participation by women representing Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei means that every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympics, according to International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.
Wojdan Shaherkani became the first woman representing Saudi Arabia in the Olympics on Friday, being thrown by Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico 82 seconds into their super-heavyweight judo match.
Rogge called the inclusion of women on the Saudi Arabian team "very positive news.''
"The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee and I am pleased to see that our continuing dialogue has come to fruition,'' Rogge said on July 12 when Attar and Shaherkani's Olympic participation was confirmed.
"The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games and today's news can be seen as an encouraging evolution.''