Saudi Women Dazzled the Sports Scene Before Being Allowed in Stadiums

Wednesday 14 March 201808:25 pm
While Saudi Arabia's decision to allow women into stadiums further involves them in sports, a host of female Saudi athletes have already been raising eyebrows and setting inspiring examples. Meet some of them:

Halah Alhamrani, First Saudi Boxer

"FIGHT LIKE A GIRL BOXING" is Halah Alhamrani's motto on Instagram where she motivates women to be in good shape and establish themselves as professional athletes. Born in Jeddah, Halah is the first female Saudi boxer, having started to learn martial arts before turning 12. She is now a jiu-jitsu black belt and has also learned karate and Muay Thai. Although she has never taken part in any Olympic games or Arab competitions, Halah has capitalized on her martial arts background to become a CrossFit coach.

Kariman Abuljadayel, Runner

Kariman Abuljadayel hit the headlines during the 2016 Rio Olympics mostly because she was the first Saudi woman to compete in the 100 meters. She also drew attention with her unusual kit, only showing her face and palms as per mainstream Islamic teachings for women. Kariman did not qualify for the final but her participation left a good impression both locally and internationally.

Raha Moharrak, Climber

On her Twitter account Raha Moharrak indentifies herself as "The first but hopefully not the last Saudi woman to climb the seven summits". She is the youngest Arab to conquer Mount Everest, a feat that aimed at raising $1 million to support education in Nepal. She lived in Saudi Arabia before moving to the UAE to join the American University in the Emirates.

Amal Baatia, Gymnast

Amal Baatia is the first female Saudi gymnastics trainer and is also a CrossFit instructor whose regular Instagram posts motivate women to exercise. She finished third in a 5-km obstacle course race in Kuwait, and second in a 12-km running race that took place at King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia.

Sarah Attar, Runner

A dual Saudi-American citizen, 800-meter runner Sarah Attar was one of two female athletes to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics for the first time ever in London 2012. Born and bred in the US, Sarah has received enormous support from her father who has been keen to see her compete on a professional level. He once said that in 2011, he encouraged his daughter to run along Jeddah's coastline as he drove next to her. Although she dressed like a man, he recalled, her jogging left some pedestrians disgruntled. She ran the same distance in 2015 with her sister as the father once again drove alongside them, only for the police to stop him on suspicion of sexual harassment. The police's action was reassuring, the father said according to AFP.

Wojdan Shaherkani, Judoka

Wojdan Shaherkani was the other female athlete alongside Sarah to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympic games for the first time in history. A judoka who competes above 78kg, Wojdan stirred up controversy over whether she can take part in a contact sport while wearing the head veil. Wojdan was only a blue belt at the time, yet was highly acclaimed because she was only 15 with no more than two years of practice.

Dalma Malhas, Equestrian

Dalma Malhas made history when she won individual bronze in the jumping at the Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010. She could have become the third female athlete to represent Saudi Arabia in the 2012 Olympics, but she pulled out after her horse sustained a back injury.
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