Female Saudi Arabian athlete makes Olympic history

Sprinter Kariman Abuljadayel made history by becoming the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in the 100m sprint event.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Kariman Abuljadayel competes in a women's 100-meter heat during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Image: AP.

Saudi Arabian sprinter Kariman Abduljadayel made history by being the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in the 100m sprint event at the Olympics.

The 22-year-old, dressed in a full-body suit and hijab, was unable to qualify, finishing seventh in her preliminary heat in a time of 14.61 seconds.

However her participation earned widespread praise on social media.

Kariman Abduljadayel, competes in the 100m sprint at the Rio Olympics, August 13, 2016. Image: Reuters.

The Saudi sprinter was one of two women to wear the hijab and full body suit for the event.

Afghanistan's Kamia Yousufi came last in her event, finishing in 14.02 seconds.

Kamia Yousufi, ran the race in a time of 14.02 seconds, faster than Abuljadayel, but not fast enough to qualify. Image: Reuters

Their attire was designed to comply with religious laws requiring that women preserve their dignity, however it was designed to give them the freedom of movement required while running.

Middle distance runner Sarah Attar was the first female track athlete to run for Saudi Arabia at the 2012 London Olympics.

Aged 19 at the time, she wore full clothing and a hijab as she finished last in her 800m heat in London, in a time of 44.95 seconds in London - more than 43 seconds behind heat winner Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya.

Sarah Attar became the first Saudi female track athlete in 2012 in London when she competed in the 800m. Image: Reuters

Attar is due to compete in the women's marathon on Sunday.

Another Saudi Arabian, Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, competed without a hijab in the judo competition in London, at the age of 16.

The Saudi governement lifted their ban on women competing at the Olympics in 2012.

Allowing women to participate in the Games shows that slow changes that are taking place in the country.

In December, women were allowed to vote for the first time and the country is considering removing the ban on allowing women to drive.

TRTWorld and agencies