Saudi Woman Makes History in 82 Seconds

Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani exits with head held high
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2012 8:38 AM CDT
Saudi Woman Makes History in 82 Seconds
Saudi Arabia's Wojdan Shahrkani and Puerto Rico's Melissa Mojica compete during the women's 78-kg judo competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, in London.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

There was never any chance that Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani was going to win her judo match at the Olympics. In a competition of all black belts, Shahrkhani has only achieved blue. But the crowd gave her a roaring ovation anyway after Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico dispatched her in just 82 seconds, the AP reports, because that on-mat defeat represents a real-world victory for Saudi women: It marked the first time a Saudi Arabian female has competed at the Games.

"I am happy to be at the Olympics," Shahrkhani told reporters. "We did not win a medal, but in the future we will and I will be a star for women's participation." Shahrkhani competed wearing a modified hijab, and after she hit the mat her hand went to her head to ensure it was still on. "There was no problem at all with the hijab," Mojica said. "I think everyone has a right to their religion." (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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