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Afghan Olympian Has Eye On Prize -- Equality For Women

  • Omid Marzban

Tahmina Kohestani leads the Afghan Olympic team upon their arrival in London ahead of this year's games.

Tahmina Kohestani leads the Afghan Olympic team upon their arrival in London ahead of this year's games.

Afghanistan's only female Olympian does not expect to win a medal, but says the opportunity to compete in London is worth more than gold.

Sprinter Tahmina Kohestani, who will compete in the 100 meters on August 3, says the real prize will be to see more Afghan women enter the sporting arena in the future.

"If I can open the way or motivate other Afghan girls to join us and improve the quality of our sports, so that in next Olympic Games more than one or two Afghan girls participate, I think that is worth more to me than a medal from this Olympics." she told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.

Kohestani yet to break 14 seconds in her event, far off the favorites' times, but has broken taboos at a record pace in her home country.
Kohestani is only the third Afghan woman to compete at the Olympic Games.

Kohestani is only the third Afghan woman to compete at the Olympic Games.


"To reach my training every day, from home to the stadium, I had to take three different buses," she said. "On every bus, people were bothering me and speaking harshly to me because they thought it was against their honor if I, as a Muslim Afghan girl, represented Afghanistan in the games."

On one occasion, a driver even kicked Kohestani off his bus.

"That day I trained with tears in my eyes," she said. "Now I work hard in order to promote the culture [of sport] among my people."

Tahmina is only the third Afghan woman ever to have earned the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games, and is taking care to represent her country and Islamic faith in proper fashion.

"I will wear a headscarf, long trousers, and a blouse with long sleeves," she said. "I will run in clothes that my trainers and the head of Afghan National Olympic Committee advise me to wear. It is completely Islamic."

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