The first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympics was thrown easily in the first round of the Olympic judo competition on Friday.
Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani’s Olympic debut was also her first-ever international competition. After judo officials banned her from wearing a headscarf, Shahrkhani wore a tight-fitting black cap.
Despite only earning a blue belt in the Japanese martial art, Shahrkhani wore a black belt to compete. She has been training for two years, mostly with her father who is an international judo referee.
Puerto Rican judoka Melissa Mojica defeated Shahrkhani in 1 minute, 22 seconds after a slow-moving fight where Shahrkhani looked tentative and unwilling to grab Mojica’s uniform. Shahrkhani was mainly on the defensive, swatting away Mojica’s attempts to get a grip. Shahrkhani seemed cautious and made little attempt to throw Mojica off balance.
Mojica eventually grabbed Shahrkhani with a secure grip on her collar, flipping her onto her back for a match-ending ippon throw.
Mojica said afterward that everyone had a right to their own religion and should be given an opportunity in judo.