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London 2012: Sarah Attar becomes Saudi Arabia's first female track Olympian


Sarah Attar became the first female track and field athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympics when she competed in the 800 metres heats today.

The 19-year-old, who wore a white head cover, a long sleeved green top and black leggings and sported luminous green running spikes, received a generous ovation from a capacity-crowd at the Olympic stadium as she trailed in last of the eight runners.

"It's an incredible experience," Attar, who has dual United States citizenship and is a student at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, told reporters.

Attar, who clocked two minutes 44.95 seconds - over 43 seconds behind heat winner Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei of Kenya, is the second Saudi woman to compete at the Games following judoka Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had extended a special invitation to Shaherkani and Attar after it pressed Saudi Arabia to end its ban on female participation.

Some conservative Saudis had criticised their countrywomen's participation in London after Saudi Arabia broke with its practice of sending male-only teams to the world's biggest sports event.