Our question has been answered! Saudi Arabia will send four female athletes to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Once again, the kingdom has chosen its female Olympians roughly three weeks before the games. Al Bawaba reports that the Saudi Arabian National Olympic Committee has selected four sportswomen to compete in Rio 2016: two runners, a fencer and a judoka.
Saudi women’s Olympic pioneer, Sarah Attar, will take on the 10 kilometer marathon after her Olympic debut in the 800 meter race at London 2012. Kariman Abuljadayel will join her in Rio’s 100 meter race.
Additionally, Joud Fahmy is poised to compete at the 52 kilogram category of the judo Olympic tournament, while Lubna Al-Omair is headed to the fencing event.
The Saudi NOC was pressed by the International Olympic Committee’s to include at least a single female athlete in its Olympic delegation, but the kingdom went the extra mile by deciding to send four sportswomen.
However, the fact remains that the eleventh-hour decision will greatly impact the women’s performance. Outstanding results cannot be expected, considering the Saudi athletes' minimal preparation in comparison with the international athletes who have qualified on merit, having been in Olympic-mode for years.
Nonetheless, Attar has been training hard since the London Olympics, targeting better results in Rio in case the kingdom chose her again. Meanwhile, Joud Fahmy eyed Rio 2016 after seeing judoka Wojdan Shaherkani compete in London. She started professional judo training last year in California, where she has been competing and doing well in local tournaments.
Meanwhile, Kariman Abuljadayel represented Saudi Arabia in the IAAF World Indoor Championships earlier this year and finished last in round one. Her personal best timing in the 100 meter race is more than four seconds slower than the 11.32 second entry standard for the Rio Olympics.
The kingdom sent its first female Olympians to London 2012. Attar and Shaherkani booked their Olympic tickets based on the Olympic universality clause, which allows unqualified athletes to attend the games when their participation is deemed necessary for reasons pertaining to equality. Attar finished last in her heat and Shaherkani lost in the first round, having not had any time for preparation. Olympians usually start preparing more than three years prior to the games.
The same clause will permit the four Saudi women to partake in Rio 2016, but the issue has not been finalized yet, as the Saudi NOC is keeping it hushed and has not published its decision on its official website . The news was unveiled by the Dutch Press Agency .
The kingdom’s most accomplished female athlete is show-jumping rider Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who became the first to compete internationally after she took part in the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, where she won bronze – the only YOG medal to Saudi’s credit.