RIYADH: Saudi sprinter Yasmine Al-Dabbagh has been eliminated from the 100 meters competition at Tokyo 2020 after finishing with a time of 13.34 seconds in the preliminary round heat 2 at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
It was the first ever Olympic participation for the 23-year-old, who despite finishing last in her race can still look back on a memorable month with some pride.
Al-Dabbagh only confirmed her qualification for the Games through a universality place on July 2 and three weeks later she was one of Saudi Arabia’s two flagbearers at the Olympics opening ceremony, the other being rower Husein Alireza.
Speaking recently to Arab News, Al-Dabbagh expressed her pride at wearing Saudi colors in Japan and the sporting progress in the Kingdom that has allowed her to achieve her dream of racing at the Olympics.
She said: “It means the world to me, especially being part of a diverse and expansive team representing so many different activities. Everything from judo, to table tennis, rowing, karate, archery, weightlifting, swimming, shooting, and football.
“The sports sector in Saudi Arabia has witnessed unprecedented growth and investment, thanks to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.
“As Saudi athletes, we are all proud of the important role sports plays in the country’s transformation. We have a great sporting ecosystem that allows us to perform at the highest level and I can’t wait to go out on the track, to repay that faith by performing to the best of my ability,” she added.
As a schoolgirl Al-Dabbagh was skilled at many sports including swimming, gymnastics, horse riding, and ice skating. Running, however, proved to be her calling.
While studying at Columbia University in New York she trained to be a short-distance sprinter and after graduation continued to be backed by the Saudi Athletics Federation. She was eventually trained by British Olympic gold medal winner in the 100m, Linford Christie.
In her first 100m race in the Kingdom she broke the existing Saudi record ahead of her progress toward qualification for Tokyo 2020.