Mehboba Ahdyar was to be the poster-child for the Olympics but the 19-year-old Afghan runner ran away from an Italian training camp last week. She has since told her parents she is too scared of reprisals and plans to seek asylum in Europe.
Mehboba Ahdyar was shouldering the heavy burden of overwhelming expectations. And in the end, it proved more than she could bear. The 19-year-old from Kabul was to be the only female athlete representing Afghanistan in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing. Now the young woman has run away, leaving a training camp in Italy and telling her family she is applying for political asylum in Europe.
The young runner, who competes in the 800 meters and 1,500 meters, had become the poster girl for the Olympic movement, with her face adorning the International Olympic Committee’s Web site.
But being in the international spotlight had attracted the wrong kind of attention. Although Ahdyar always ran in a headscarf and wore long tracksuit bottoms she still received death threats from extremists who objected to a Muslim woman taking part in sports at all.
When she received visits from Western media earlier this year, her neighbors called the police telling them she was obviously a prostitute working for foreign clients. Her father, a carpenter, even spent time in jail until the issue was cleared up.
The attempt to revive women’s sport in Afghanistan has been an uphill battle. The 2004 Olympics marked the first time female Afghan athletes had competed in the games since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The country had been banned from the 2000 games because the Islamist regime had not allowed women to compete.
Olympic aspirations shattered, in the name of islam. Yet another example of the emancipation of women under islam, that muslimah is always babbling on about.
Read the rest of Mehboba’s sad story in der Spiegel.