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Sport

Ambassador VCB bats for Saudi female athletes

BY PAUL A REID Observer Writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 17, 2012    

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OLYMPIC and World Championships sprint champion Veronica Campbell Brown has joined the calls for Saudi Arabia to allow female competitors to participate at the London Olympic Games later this year.

The UNESCO Champion for Sport Ambassador wrote in her IAAF online diary for June that she hoped a number of female sports personalities from the largest Arab country, including their football team, would be allowed to take part in the quadrennial sports extravaganza set to start July 27 in London.

While hailing FIFA, the world's football governing body, for its "bold step" in appointing Lydia Nsekera, the president of the Burundi Football Association, to the previously all-male executive, she said:

"I am hoping that the Saudi Arabian situation with regard to their women being allowed to compete at the Olympic Games will be favourably resolved and their women allowed to compete under the banner of their nation's flag."

Under Islamic laws, women are not allowed to participate in sports and, as such, the Saudi Arabian government banned the Jeddah Knights United, an all-female football team.

A report in a Pan-Arabic newspaper based in London reported in March, however, that the Saudi Crown Prince, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, has approved the participation of female athletes in London as long as their sports "meet the standards of women's decency and don't contradict Islamic laws".

The report said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in a statement that it met with Saudi Olympic officials and was "confident that Saudi Arabia is working to include women athletes and officials at the Olympic Games in London".

Three Arab countries, including Qatar and Brunei, could send females to the Olympics for the first time.

Meanwhile, Campbell Brown, who is seeking to become the first athlete to win three consecutive 200m titles at the Games, has targeted the JAAA National Senior Trials set for June 28-July 1 as she seeks to make the team to London.

She is coming off a May schedule that saw her compete in the heat of Doha for the first time since winning the first of her two IAAF World Indoor gold medals there in 2010, as well as in Shanghai, China and Ostrava, Czech Republic.

In Doha, she was second in the 100m to American Allyson Felix, running 10.94 seconds, then won back-to-back 200m in Shanghai in 22.50 seconds and

Ostrava, 22.38.

Doha was Campbell Brown's first experience with the dessert heat and she wrote in her diary that "Doha served as a lesson to this Jamaican that there is heat and then there is heat, as I found out in Doha (LOL)."

The shopping experience in Shanghai and the fervour of the fans in Ostrava were memorable for her as well, she wrote.

Campbell Brown celebrated her 30th birthday in Shanghai and said while it was a "low-keyed affair", she got "a few gifts and, of course, Omar (her husband) added the roses".

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