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Afghan, Brunei, Saudi Sportswomen Send Strong Signals At Olympics

Afghanistan's Tahmina Kohistani (right) reacts after competing in the women's 100-meter heats at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Afghanistan's only female athlete at the London Olympics has bowed out after coming last in her qualifying heat for the 100-meter sprint on August 3.

Despite failing to qualify, Tahmina Kohistani ran a personal best time of 14.42 seconds in her heat on August 3.

The 23-year-old was defiant in defeat, insisting her mere participation at the games, as Afghanistan's third ever Olympic track athlete, would inspire other women in her conservative country to take up sport.

"My result is not as satisfactory as it could be," she said. "I was training hard and had a better result during my training. But for me participating [in the Olympic Games] is even more valuable than winning a gold medal.”

The first ever woman to represent Brunei at the Olympics, Maziah Mahusin, ran in the 400-meters, setting a national record of 59.28.

After the race, the 19-year-old was absolutely ecstatic: "It is such an honor. I want to inspire other women. Maybe I will care about medals the next time. I will keep on training."

Also on August 3, Wodjan Shaherkhani became the first Saudi woman to compete at the Olympic Games when she took part in the first round of the 78 kilogram judo competition.

The 16-year-old's bout ended in defeat to Puerto Rican Melissa Mojica after 80 seconds.

"Hopefully this is the beginning of a new era," Shahrkhani said afterwards. "Unfortunately, we did not win a medal, but in the future we will and I will be a star for women's participation."

In fencing, South Korea was the surprise winner of the men's team saber gold medal, defeating Romania in the final. The Koreans beat Romania’s Tiberiu Dolniceanu, Rares Dumitrescu, Florin Zalomir, and Alexandru Siriteanu 45-26. Italy defeated pre-competition favorite Russia 45-40 in the bronze medal match.

Michael Phelps of the United States won the men's 100-meter butterfly, claiming the 17th gold medal and 21st medal of his Olympic career. South Arican Chad Le Clos and Russian Evgeny Korotyshkin shared silver. Serbian Milorad Cavic finished equal fourth with Germany's Steffen Deibler.

France's Teddy Riner won the men's over 100 kilogram Olympic judo gold medal. Having already won a record five world championship titles, Riner, 23, defeated Russia's Alexander Mikhaylin in the Olympic final. Germany's Andreas Toelzer and Brazil's Rafael Silva were awarded bronze medals.

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova won an all-Russian semi-final against Maria Kirilenko. Russia's opening ceremony flag bearer, Sharapova will face American Serena Williams in the gold-medal match on August 5. Williams beat world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in just 63 minutes on August 3. Azarenka and Kililenko will play off for a bronze medal.

Elsewhere, Poland's Adrian Zielinski won Olympic gold in the men's weightlifting 85 kilogram category on August 3 with a total lift of 385 kilograms. Russia's Apti Aukhadov lifted the same weight but took silver because she has a higher body weight than Zielinski. Iran's Kianoush Rostami, with a total of 380 kg, claimed the bronze.

Meanwhile, Svetlana Podobedova of Kazakhstan defeated Russia's Natalya Zabolotnaya in the women's 75 kilogram category. Both lifted a combined total of 291 kilograms but Podobedava secured her country's third gold medal of London 2012 as she weighed 220 grams less than her opponent. Iryna Kulesha secured bronze for Belarus with 269 kilograms.

Away from the action, Russian track cyclist Victoria Baranova has been expelled from the London Games after testing positive for the male hormone testosterone on July 24 in Belarus. The 22-year-old had been due to race in the women's keirin Friday.

And a Moldovan athlete due to compete in the women's hammer throw event has been dropped from the squad after failing a drugs test. Marina Marghieva was disqualified along with discus thrower Natalia Artyk, who was not on the official list of 21 Moldovan athletes competing in London.

Moldovan Olympics Committee chief Nikolai Zhuravsky said an investigation had been launched.

The United States was at the top of the overall medal table after competition on August 3 with 43 medals. China was in second place with 42 medals, followed by Russia with 23 medals, although only three of those were gold.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, dpa, Radio Free Afghanistan @HMARichardStagg
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