It’s nearly time to set The Torch to “dim” for the night, but we must note something historic that happened today: Wojdan Shaherkani competed for Saudi Arabia in the Olympics, becoming the first woman ever to do so.
Shaherkani wasn’t a threat to win her match against Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica. After all, Shaherkani is only 16, and her highest level of achievement in judo is a blue belt. Their match only lasted 1 minute and 22 seconds.
But the event showed real courage and determination on Shaherkani’s part. Before Friday’s match, she had to overcome a kerfuffle over her wish to wear a headscarf during competition. She compromised a bit on that, wearing a tight cap.
And when she finally set foot on the competition mat, the crowd gave the native of Mecca a long and enthusiastic reception.
“I was scared a lot, because of all the crowd,” she told the AP.
Her full name is Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani. And her father, Ali, is a judo referee who traveled with his daughter to London.
After the match, the AP’s Paul Haven spoke to the pair, and Ali said that he “cried like a baby” as he watched his daughter compete in the Olympics.
“She was happy and smiled when she finished the fight,” he said. “She hugged me and said: ‘Daddy, I did this.’ I was so proud.”
After their short match was over, the winner, Mojica, shook Shaherkani’s hand — and performed a deep bow. Shaherkani bowed, as well, and the crowd cheered loudly as the two women left the mat.