Last Updated: Fri Nov 18, 2011 07:09 am (KSA) 04:09 am (GMT)

Saudi Arabia likely to field women athletes in 2012 Olympics

Dalma Rushdi H. Malhas competes on Flash Top Hat during the jumping individual round at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. (Photo courtesy of Arab News)
Dalma Rushdi H. Malhas competes on Flash Top Hat during the jumping individual round at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games. (Photo courtesy of Arab News)

Saudi Arabia plans to send a female equestrian team to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London to avoid being barred from taking part in the competitions, Saudi media sources reported on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia always sent exclusively male teams to Olympic Games as the kingdom restricts the participation of women in sports and doesn't allow them to participate in Olympic Games.

Anita DeFrantz, chair of the International Olympic Committee's Women and Sports Commission, had warned Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei in June 2010 that they could be barred from the 2012 Olympics if they don't send in female athletes for the first time.

Qatar agreed to include women in its 2012 Olympic delegation, increasing pressure on its conservative Muslim neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s al-Shorouq reported that the Kingdom is likely to participate in the Olympics with equestrienne Dalma Rushdi Malhas, 18, who took part in several international competitions and won a bronze medal in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.

The OIC required each country to field at least one woman in the Youth Olympics and Saudi Arabia included Malhas in its delegation.

“I didn’t know whether I was allowed (to participate) but when I got invited of course I didn’t think twice and went at my own expense,” Malhas was quoted by the Saudi-based Arab News as saying.

“I didn’t care much about me being there as a representative of Saudi Arabia, because anyone could probably do that. But getting a medal was the key, and that’s not easy for anyone, and I wanted that — and only that gives recognition to my country,” she said.

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