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Afghan Female Athlete Proud, Despite Olympic Defeat

Afghanistan's Tahmina Kohistani (right) despite failing to qualify, ran a personal best time of 14.42 on August 3.
Afghanistan's only female athlete at the London Games has bowed out after coming last in the 100-meter sprint.

Tahmina Kohistani, despite failing to qualify, ran a personal best time of 14.42 on August 3.

She competed in a black head scarf topped with Afghanistan's other national colors of red and green, and a long-sleeved, light blue top with long trousers.

Kohistani 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. I was training hard and had a better result during my training," Kohistani said.

"But for me participating [in the Olympic Games] is even more valuable than winning a gold medal."

Kohistani said she had overcome huge prejudice to reach the Olympics, attracting hostility from those opposed to the involvement of women in sport in Afghanistan.

She urged Afghan women to "come and join" her in women's sport. The athlete said "we must be ready for the next Olympics. We should have more than one girl in the next Olympics."

Many Challenges

Kohistani also spoke of the challenges she faces as a female athlete in her deeply conservative society.

"There were a lot of times when the people were saying something very wrong to me, [like] 'Just leave these things, it's not good,'" she said.

She recalled an incident when a taxi driver in Kabul told her to get out of his car when Kohistani told him she was an athlete and wanted to be in the London Olympics.

Kohistani is among the six-strong Afghan team in London. It also includes Rohullah Nikpai, whose taekwondo bronze at Beijing 2008 was the country's first ever Olympic medal.

In a message posted on Twitter, the British ambassador in Kabul, Richard Stagg, welcomed Kohistani's participation at the Olympic Games, saying Afghanistan was banned from 2000 Olympics because of Taliban discrimination against women, and today Ms. Kohistani competes in London.

Afghan women competed at the Olympics for the first time at Athens in 2004, when Robina Muqimyar ran the 100-meter sprint, and Friba Razayee took part in the judo competition.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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