Saudi Arabia was represented in the women’s marathon on Sunday morning at the Rio Olympics for the first time in history. Sarah Attar, a California resident who holds dual citizenship with the United States, is just one of four women from Saudi Arabia at the 2016 Olympics.
In 2012, Attar became the first woman for Saudi Arabia to run at the Olympics. This time, instead of the 800m, the 23-year-old decided to hit the roads to run the 42.2K event. She ran fully covered and finished in 3:16:11 amidst the hot and humid conditions in the host city.
— Andrew Kastor (@CoachKastor) August 14, 2016
“My marathon PB is 26 minutes off the Olympic qualifying mark, but this is bigger than myself or my time,” Attar wrote on Instagram on Saturday. “I am here on a wildcard because right now participation for women of Saudi Arabia is what matters most. If the marathon teaches you anything it’s patience. I will continue to patiently work towards my goal of hitting that qualifying mark. It is an honour to share this process with you, represent Saudi Arabia, and run the Olympic Marathon with the best in the world.”
— Arab News (@Arab_News) August 14, 2016
The Pepperdine University graduate holds dual citizenship as her father was born in Saudi Arabia. She did not meet the entry standards for the Olympics but the International Olympic Committee extended her a wildcard invitation to compete.
Attar is coached by Andrew Kastor, the husband of Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the women’s marathon and the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist. She’s based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
According to the Washington Post, Saudi Arabia has four athletes at the Rio Olympics, double what the nation had in 2012.
Prior to 2012, Saudi Arabia banned female participation at the Olympics. Ahead of the London Games, the IOC pressured Saudi Arabia to allow women to compete at the Games and the country responded by sending Attar and a judo athlete. All the women from Saudi Arabia walked in this year’s opening ceremony on Aug. 5.
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) August 6, 2016
Attar’s marathon kit, a dark short-sleeve top, white arm sleeves, full-length pants and a hat, were designed by Oiselle, a women’s apparel brand based in the United States.
— Sally Bergesen (@oiselle_sally) August 14, 2016
According to Al Jazeera, Attar’s family made the trip to Rio to watch her run in the marathon. There is one other woman on the Saudi Arabian athletics team: Kariman Abuljadayel who ran in the women’s 100m.
Attar wants to qualify for the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 by hitting the 2:45 qualifying standard. If she does, Attar would become the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia in an athletics event without an IOC invitation.