13 July 2008

Back in March I put up a post about the only woman in the Afghan Olympic Team Now it seems that she will not be competing in Beijing after all.

Mahbooba Ahadgar (or Mehboba Andyar as she was called in earlier news items –spelling varies) was scheduled to run in the 800m and 1,500m. She had no chance of a medal – indeed it was likely she would have finished a minute or more behind the winners. For her to take part in the greatest sporting tournament on earth would be victory enough.

Miss Ahadgar disappeared from the town of Formia, south of Rome, where she had been training with other Olympic Solidarity hopefuls for the previous month. According to Nick Davies, press spokesman for the world athletics governing body IAAF, the group was due to return to a training camp in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 7 July – but Ms Ahadgar disappeared. "There were all sorts of lurid rumours about her being kidnapped," said Mr Davies. "But now it emerges that she took her passport, stamped with a visa valid for the Schengen countries, and belongings with her. Clearly she's taken a decision."

Ms Ahadgar phoned her family in of Kabul to tell them that she was on her way to claim political asylum in Norway.

Her decision to run presented Miss Ahadgar with huge difficulties. She chose to train in a headscarf and tracksuit to avoid being criticised for immodesty, and timed her runs for the evening when most Kabulis are at home watching their favourite soap opera. But when foreign journalists came calling at the family home to interview her, neighbours phoned the police and reported that she was receiving men as a prostitute. Her father was briefly thrown in jail until the confusion was cleared up.

Her mother, Moha Jan, added: "We are really scared about the security situation in our country and of the people who have negative views about my family. But these problems cannot stop us from supporting our daughter."

There was always a possibility that she would seize the opportunity presented by her Schengen visa to escape from the grinding poverty of Afghanistan for good. To try to dissuade Ms Ahadgar from vanishing, the head of the Afghan Olympic Federation reportedly threatened to throw her family in jail if she did not return to Afghanistan. Now she has called his bluff.

And who can blame her for making this decision? She faced problems no athlete in the West would face in their worst nightmares. While it would have been great to see her do her very best in Beijing, it would not cut much ice with many fellow Afghans.

17 comments:

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Yes, I've been following this one, Jams. That's a real shame she won't now be competing.

Beaman said...

Very sad.

Nunyaa said...

This Olympics is nothing more than a farce, the people of the world haven't forgotten Tiananmen Square.
Very sad for Mahbooba Ahadgar, her family and her countrymen.

CherryPie said...

It is a shame, but you can't really blame her for taking such a decision.

Bengbeng said...

so many things we take for granted we have forgotten how to appreciate them

Trubes said...

Marbooba clearly made a brave decision, I just hope that the Afghans don't persecute her family because of it!

First visit to your site Jams and I've enjoyed it.
Looking at a picture of your cat he looks very similar to my cat Chloe, who os absolutely spoiled but adorable.

Di.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Poor woman. Yes, who can blame her indeed?

jams o donnell said...

I can't blame her at all for doing what she did

Bird said...

Go Mahbooba, Go!!!!

Or rather...run, Mahbooba, run!!!

Shoshana said...

I'd like to invite you to Mailbox Monday. Post any mailbox picture, sign in to Mr. Linky and you're done.

Andrew Allison said...

I'm sure - for her - she made the right decision.

Chris in Happy Valley said...

Thanks for featuring this story - very compelling and not one that I'd heard.

jams o donnell said...

For her I am sure it still was a hard choice. I hope her family face no recriminations

Anonymous said...

What a hideous mess it all is. Do you think there is a Fourth World which is even prevented from dreaming of devolpment. The sense of hopelessness is horrid.

jams o donnell said...

Well put Aileni

Roland Dodds said...

I can’t blame her; national pride in sporting events is already on the silly side of life, but if you come from a place that your very existence is not secure, then there would be even fewer reasons to go through it in my opinion.

jams o donnell said...

I agree Roland.