Friends and family of Pepperdine University student Sarah Attar will watch as she competes in the women’s 800 meters in London’s Olympic Stadium on August 8.
The 19-year-old track athlete will make history as she, along with judo fighter Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani, compete for Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“Sarah is a wonderful Pepperdine student who works hard in all she does,” said Robert Radnoti, Pepperdine University cross country and track coach. “We are excited and very proud of her selection to the Saudi Arabian Olympic team. We hope that she has a great experience and we look forward to her sharing stories with our team when we all get back together in late August.”
With the inclusion of Saudi Arabia, all nations will have sent a woman to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Saudi officials lifted the ban on women competing in the games last month.
According to a BBC report, both women will likely wear loose garments and a sports hijab, which is a scarf that will cover their hair, but not their faces.
In a video interview posted by the Associated Press, Attar said she is inspired to be one of the first women for Saudi Arabia going to the Olympics.
“It is such a huge honor and I hope that it can really make some good strides for women over there to get more involved in the sport,” she said.
Attar, a sophomore at Pepperdine, was born and raised in Escondido. Her Pepperdine University Athletics bio shows a season best 5K of 20:26 at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational and a 6K of 25:02 at the WCC Championships. Her 800 meters best is 2:40.
Attar’s advice to women hoping to compete in the Olympics is this: “To any woman who wants to participate, I say ‘go for it,’ and don’t let anybody hold you back.”
Jennifer Dean is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.