Pepperdine runner set for pioneering Olympic appearance

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2012 summer games Pepperdine runner set for pioneering Olympic appearance

(AP Image)

(CNS) – Pepperdine University junior Sarah Attar is expected to become the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in Olympic track and field on Wednesday in London.

The 19-year-old is entered in the sixth and final heat of the women’s 800 meters and is not expected to advance to Thursday’s semifinals. The heats are set to begin at 3:35 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will be shown live on NBCOlympics.com.

“A big inspiration for participating in the 2012 Olympics for me is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going,” Attar said last month after her entry was confirmed by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee. “It’s such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some good strides for women over there to get more involved in the sport.”

Attar was born and raised in Escondido, graduating from Escondido High School in 2010. She holds dual citizenship through her father.

Attar ran in two meets for the Waves in 2012, finishing 12th in her heat of the 1,500 meters in the Cal State Fullerton Ben Brown Invitational in five minutes, 30.51 seconds March 10 and 29th in the 3,000 meters in Spring Break Invitational March 24 at UC Irvine in 11:37.41.

Attar, an art major, was named to the West Coast Conference’s Commissioner’s Honor Roll the past two years and was an honorable mention selection to the conference’s All-Academic team for cross country in 2011.

“Sarah is a wonderful Pepperdine student who works hard in all she does,” Waves coach Robert Radnoti said.

Participation by women representing Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei means that every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympics, according to International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge.

Wojdan Shaherkani became the first woman representing Saudi Arabia in the Olympics on Friday, being thrown by Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico 82 seconds into their super-heavyweight judo match.

Rogge called the inclusion of women on the Saudi Arabian team “very positive news.”

“The IOC has been working very closely with the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee and I am pleased to see that our continuing dialogue has come to fruition,” Rogge said on July 12 when Attar and Shaherkani’s Olympic participation was confirmed.

“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution.”

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