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Sarah Attar became the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in Olympic track and field today and, although she came last in her 800m heat, the London 2012 athlete received a big round of applause from the Olympic stadium.

Running in a white headscarf, green long-sleeved shirt and black leggings, Attar smiled and waved at the 80,000 spectators cheering her on.

Attar, 19, will not to advance to Thursday's semifinals. However her participation in the London 2012 Olympics is an important move by Saudi Arabia.

"A big inspiration for participating in the 2012 Olympics for me is being one of the first women for Saudi Arabia to be going," Attar said last month after her entry was confirmed by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

"It's such a huge honour and I hope that it can really make some good strides for women over there to get more involved in the sport."

Wojdan Shaherkani became the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics on Friday, losing her match to Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico in the super-heavyweight judo event.

London 2012 has seen participation by women from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei meaning this is the first year that every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympics.

Attar was born and raised in Escondido, in the U.S, but she holds dual citizenship through her father.

A last minute decision by the London 2012 Olympic committee meant that Attar was allowed to compete wearing a headscarf, however it has been reported that the website of her California university was forced to remove all photos of her running in skimpy athletics kit after she was selected for the Olympics. 


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London 2012: Saudi Arabia female athlete Sarah Attar loses heat, wins applause
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