Olympic history was made on Friday when Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani became Saudi Arabia's first ever female athlete to compete in the Olympics.
The momentous moment was however shortlived when the 16-year-old Saudi competitor was defeated in just 82 seconds by Melissa Mojica, 28, of Puerto Rico, in the +78 kg judo bout. The event was the first time that Shaherkani had competed publicly.
The Washington Post reported Olympic officials provided quotes from Shaherkani, saying "I am very excited, and it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Certainly the Saudi judo federation are delighted that I’ve been able to come here. Hopefully this will be the start of bigger participation for other sports also. Hopefully this is the begin [sic] of a new era.”
Shaherkani's participation in the London Olympics has been the subject of intense speculation after the International Judo Federation (IJF) announced that competitors were banned from competing whilst wearing a hijab, a pre-condition of the Saudi Arabian authorities permission for their women to enter the Games. Digital Journal reported that the International Olympics Committee and the IJF eventually agreed on an acceptable form of headscarf for Shaherkani to wear.
According to the Star the Saudi Arabian judo entrant sported a "tight-fitting black modified skull cap" to team with her white judo pyjamas. She was escorted by a body-guard acting as the demanded male escort and remained segregated from men during her stay in London. Saudi Sharia law was upheld thousands of miles from Shaherkani's homeland as the IJF gave in to religious pressure from the Kingdom.
The CSM quoted one Saudi born blogger who tweeted she "didn’t lose because she was no good, rather because the #Saudi gov. don’t even have sports facilities for young women to do sport!”