Sport

Qatari female athlete to hold flag at London Games

Friday, July 13, 2012    

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — One of Qatar's first female athletes to compete at the Olympics will be the flag-bearer for the opening ceremony at the London Games.

Qatar's Olympic Committee posted a statement late Wednesday on Twitter saying shooter Bahiya al-Hamad has been chosen to "raise the Qatar flag at London 2012".

"I'm truly proud and humbled to carry the Qatar flag among my fellow athletes from all over the world," al-Hamad said on Twitter.

Along with Saudi Arabia and Brunei, Qatar has never previously sent female athletes to the Olympics.

The tiny but wealthy oil-rich nation of Qatar has made women's participation in sports a key component of its quest to become a Middle Eastern sporting power by bidding for high-profile competitions, such as winning the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup.

Al-Hamad was Qatar's most successful athlete at the 2011 Arab Games, winning three gold medals and two silver. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) offered the 19-year-old shooter a wild-card invitation to compete in the 10-metre and women's air rifle competition at the London Games.

Qatari female swimmer Nada Arkaji and sprinter Noor al-Malki have also been given wild cards by the IOC.

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