Saudi female showjumper to miss Olympics
Please click to enlarge the image.
Malhas was widely expected to be the only Saudi female competitor at this year’s 2012 London Olympics
Dalma Rushdi Malhas, the showjumper touted to become Saudi Arabia’s first female competitor in the Olympics, will not be taking part in this year’s competition, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has confirmed.
The 20-year old, who won individual bronze at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, failed to meet the minimum competence standard to tackle the Olympic course after her horse was sidelined due to injury.
“Regretfully the Saudi Arabian rider Dalma Rushdi Malhas has not attained the minimum eligibility standards and consequently will not be competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games”, Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General, said in a statement.
But while the FEI confirmed she would not be competing, the equestrian governing body said it understands “that the IOC has a number of other female athletes from Saudi Arabia in other sports who are currently under consideration”.
Malhas, who was directly invited to compete in the Olympics but was not formally nominated by the Saudi Olympic Committee, failed to meet the standard after her horse, Caramell KS, suffered a back problem, forcing her to miss a month’s work during the qualifying period, said FEI.
“It would have been a great opportunity to have a female athlete on the Saudi equestrian team”, Arwa Mutabagani, Malhas’ mother said in a statement. “But Dalma is young and she is determined to represent Saudi Arabia at the highest level, so we have great hopes for Rio 2016.”
Speaking earlier this year at the IOC Women And Sport conference, Malhas said she is “determined to give my best to reach their level one day, and prove that all women athletes, all over the world, should be given equal opportunities”.
Female involvement in sport is an extremely contentious issue in Saudi Arabia, which closed down private gyms for women in 2009 and 2010. The Gulf state is one of three nations alongside Qatar and Brunei, to have never sent female athletes to the Olympics.
Qatar says it plans to send female competitors to this year’s games.