Bahiya Al-Hamad will set a record at the London 2012 Olympics before she even takes up the rifle in her shooting events. As one of the first ever women to represent Qatar at the Olympics, Al-Hamad will be flying a flag for all women in her region.
The 10-metre rifle shooter is currently training for two hours every day with the Uzbeki coach, Ivan Shahov. Still in her foundation year at Qatar University, Al-Hamad competed at the Singapore junior Olympic games two years ago.
She will join Nada Arkaji (swimming), Noor Al-Malki (athletics) and Aya Magdy (table tennis) in marking a change in the way Qatar approaches gender relations.
Brunei Darussalam has also entered a female athlete into the games for the first time. Maziah Mahusin will represent Brunei in athletics.
Saudi Arabia was the final country in the world to announce that it would send female competitors to the Olympic games. Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani will fight for her country in judo, + 78kg class, and Sarah Attar will run the 800m for Saudi Arabia.
The announcements follow careful negotiations between the International Olympic Committee and the national committee. IOC President Jacques Rogge remarked:
“The IOC has been striving to ensure a greater gender balance at the Olympic Games, and today’s news can be seen as an encouraging evolution. With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, it means that by London 2012 every National Olympic Committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games.”