Lifestyle & Belief

Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar makes Olympic track history


Sarah Attar competes in the 800 meter heat on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium.


Alexander Hassenstein

Despite finishing last in her race, a jubilant Sarah Attar was given a standing ovation from the crowd of about 80,000 as she strode down the home stretch.

USA Today reported Attar, wearing a white headscarf, green longsleeve shirt and black leggings, finished more than a half-minute slower than her nearest competitor in the women's 800 meters, but for her, the time did not matter.

"This is such a huge honor and an amazing experience, just to be representing the women," Attar said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"I know that this can make a huge difference."

Attar's debut came five days after a Saudi judo athlete became the ultraconservative country's first female competitor at any Olympics.

Attar was all smiles as she crossed the finish line. The 19-year-old said she wanted to represent Saudi Arabia at the Olympics as a way of inspiring women.

The Los Angeles Times said Attar has dual U.S. and Saudi citizenship because her father is Saudi. She usually competes in the 1,500 and 3,000 and is coached in San Diego by Joaquim Cruz, who also coaches elite U.S. 800-meter runner Alice Schmidt.