4 Aug 2012

First female athlete from Saudi Arabia competes

10:09 pm on 4 August 2012

The first female athlete from Saudi Arabia has competed in the Olympic Games.

Wojdan Shahrkhani was in the spotlight before she took to the mat because judo officials had banned her from wearing a traditional headscarf for safety reasons.

A compromise was reached and she wore a tight-fitting black cap in her bout with Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rica.

However, she was defeated in less than 90 seconds on Friday after Mojica took a secure grip on her collar and flipped her into an ippon.

''Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era," Shahrkhani said afterwards. ''I was scared a lot, because of all the crowd,'' she added.

Shahrkani is one of two Saudi Arabian females competing at London 2012. The other is American-born 800m runner Sarah Attar.

The BBC reports Shahrkhani did not qualify for her Olympic spot, but was invited by the International Olympic Committee to compete as the organisation wanted to bring Saudi women to the Olympics for the first time.