Saudi Arabia has only just lifted its ban on women representing the country at the Olympics but celebrations have taken a knock as the only Saudi Arabian female with a realistic chance of qualifying to compete at London 2012 has been forced to pull out.
An injury to the horse of showjumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas means the 20-year-old, who won bronze at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games at Singapore in 2010, missed a vital month of training during the qualifying period. The athlete had hoped to achieve the minimum eligibility standard required for the Olympic Games by the deadline of June 17.
Dalma’s horse, a 12-year-old Swedish warmblood mare Caramell KS, was found to be suffering from a back problem, putting an end to any hopes of qualifying.
“There have been some reports in the media, but 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,” said FEI secretary general Ingmar De Vos.
“However, we understand that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has a number of other female athletes from Saudi Arabia in other sports who are currently under consideration.
“The FEI is very proud to have been the International Federation to field the first female athlete from Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games when Dalma won individual bronze in the jumping, and we very much look forward to seeing her on the Olympic stage again.”
The news means Dalma will miss out on being the first woman to represent Saudi at a major international event, having competed at Singapore in 2010 under the flag of the IOC.
Jessica Whittington, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine