Afghanistan hopes to end Olympic medal drought
BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — Afghanistan’s Olympic delegation strode into the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night.
The delegation, whose only four athletes arrived in the Chinese capital one day before the Olympics open, is seeking a historic medal in the Beijing Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Afghanistan from Olympic competition in 1999 for the Taliban ruling. After missing the 2000 Sydney Games, Afghan athletes were allowed to participate in the Athens Games since the IOC lifted the ban in 2002.
Runner Mehboba Andyar, the only female Afghan athlete in Beijing, will compete in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters events.
Ahdyar spent years training for her chance on the world supreme athletic stage. In spite of the change in Afghanistan’s political fortunes, the only female Olympian has faced daily taunts from her more conservative neighbors, vicious rumors about her character, and even death threats from extremists.
Ahdyar left her training camp in June to seek political asylum in Norway, saying she just wanted undistracted training.
In Athens, women’s athletes Friba Razayee and Robina Muqim Yaar represented Afghanistan for the first time in the country’s history.
Afghanistan’s best Olympic finish was Mohammed Ebrahimi’s fifth place in wrestling at the Tokyo Games in 1964.
Afghanistan, a mountainous Islamic country in Central Asia with a population of about 31 million, has a history and culture that goes back over 5,000 years.
The most popular sport in Afghanistan is buzkashi, a team sport played on horseback. The second most popular sport is soccer, followed by cricket.