Saudi Arabia's First Female Olympian Makes History In Judo Match

Wojdan Shaherkani of Saudi Arabia (left) met Melissa Mojica in the women's +78 kg judo in London. Their match was short, but historic. i i

Wojdan Shaherkani of Saudi Arabia (left) met Melissa Mojica in the women's +78 kg judo in London. Their match was short, but historic. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Wojdan Shaherkani of Saudi Arabia (left) met Melissa Mojica in the women's +78 kg judo in London. Their match was short, but historic.

Wojdan Shaherkani of Saudi Arabia (left) met Melissa Mojica in the women's +78 kg judo in London. Their match was short, but historic.

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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.

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