NEWS

Afghan Olympians due on Lesvos

KABUL (Reuters) – Two 17-year-old girls left Afghanistan for training on Lesvos yesterday knowing that, win or lose at the Athens Olympics, they will enter the history books. Robina Muqimyar and Fraiba Rezzay realize the odds will be against them when they compete against the world’s best, but as the first women ever to represent Afghanistan at the ultimate sporting event, taking part counts for plenty. «My fastest time is 15 seconds,» said Muqimyar, a 100-meter sprinter up against women looking to better 11 seconds. «I’m not worried about that,» she told Reuters just before leaving, flanked by her father and young brother. «Because of the situation in Afghanistan, we’ve not been able to train properly. In other countries, girls will have had a better chance to train.» Less than three years after the fall of the Taleban, which banned women from sport and girls from school, five athletes boarded an Ariana flight in Kabul. Muqimyar and Rezzay (judo) were joined by a male sprinter, boxer and wrestler, as well as female judo coach Tafsir Siapoush. «I feel very happy since this is the first time Afghanistan women will be able to participate in the Olympic Games,» Siapoush said. The team, funded by the Greek government, arrives in Athens today, and will reach Lesvos tomorrow where they will spend five to six weeks before going to Thessaloniki for more training and acclimatization. After nine members of the Afghan national soccer team went missing from a training camp in Italy in April, Olympic team members were asked by reporters whether they intended to return. «I’ll be back,» said wrestler Bashir Ahmad. «My own country is the best place for me and I hope to bring back something great from Athens.»