She may not even realize all the implications yet at this time but there is no doubt that 16 year old Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani from Makkah, Saudi Arabia is a legend. She may not have won a medal during the 2012 London Olympics but she will always be known as the first female Olympian direct from the Kingdom to participate as part of the official Saudi Arabian Olympic team.
She’s a young and quiet girl from Makkah who was trained in judo by her father. She had never participated in international events yet she showed nothing but bravery and dignity when she faced her judo opponent from Puerto Rico. She was likely not accustomed to the aggressiveness shown and displayed by other athletes in their quest for a medal. Yet she remained determined and resolved to represent her country with dignity and grace.
Unless one has lived in Saudi Arabia and among Saudis, it is difficult to envision the environment in which Wodjan was likely most familiar and comfortable. She is likely more accustomed to segregation and compared to most others, a quieter life which revolved around extended family. Yet at the same time, she and her father had their special bond in which he taught her his professional skill of judo.
Wojdan has paved the way for other Saudi girls and women to realize that they too, with practice and perseverance, can also be part of a future Olympic team for their country. In fact, I would hope that as this post is written there are already other Saudi females who are actively practicing and training for the next Olympics.
As for Wojdan, whether she participates in another Olympics or not, she can share with pride to her future children and grandchildren that yes, she was the first female directly from Saudi Arabia to represent to the country in an Olympics.