BEIJING Aug 9 Sprinter Robina Muqimyar does
not have a qualified trainer, she has no sponsor, she comes
from a country ruined by war and she grew up under hardline
Islamist rulers who would not brook girls playing sport.
Little wonder that she stands little chance of a medal at
the Beijing Olympics.
But Muqimyar, the only woman among four athletes
representing Afghanistan at the Games, told Reuters she would
just be happy if she could improve the 100 metres time she
clocked up at Athens four years ago, 14.14 seconds.
"I'm the luckiest girl in the world to participate in two
Olympic Games, and I hope to get to London," she said after a
ceremony to raise the black-green-gold tricolour of Afghanistan
among a sea of flags at the athletes' village.
Although Afghan society remains deeply conservative, some
things have improved for women since 2001, when U.S.-led and
Afghan forces ousted the Taliban rulers.
Muqimyar, dressed in a headscarf, said that most people in
her country would be very proud that a female athlete was
representing them in a world sports event.
Her Olympic teammates include two taekwondo competitors and
a men's 100 metres runner, Masoud Azizi, a 23-year-old.
There is not a single proper running track in the whole
country and athletes in Kabul, the capital, train at a sports
stadium where the Taliban used to hold public executions.
"We have to run on concrete," said Azizi, another Athens
Olympian who went to Malaysia for five months before the
Beijing Games to train. His best time in the 100 metres is
"Under the Taliban regime it was very difficult to be an
athlete but now with (President Hamid) Karzai things are
better," he said.
"Afghanistan faces a huge funding crisis. At international
donor meetings funds go to schools, health and construction but
no one considers sports," he said.
(editing by Alison Williams)
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