Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who made history by becoming the first Saudi female athlete to compete on the Olympic stage when she rode at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010, was amongst a high-profile group of speakers who addressed the recent IOC Women and Sport conference in Los Angeles (USA). The 20-year-old, who won individual bronze in Singapore, spoke of her hope of gender equality in all sports. “I cannot yet compare myself to the riders of the Saudi First Team, but I am determined to give my best to reach their level one day, and prove that all women athletes, all over the world, should be given equal opportunities”, she said. Twenty-four hours earlier, Malhas had received the loudest applause of the day after being invited onto the stage by IOC Executive Board member Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco. Malhas, and then her mother, were brought on stage to demonstrate that female athletes from the Middle East can make their mark on the international sporting arena.
Media reports have claimed that Malhas may be invited to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games, but while the FEI would welcome her participation as part of the Saudi team at Greenwich there are no personal invitations in equestrian sport at the Olympic Games.
“The FEI will not and cannot issue any ‘invitations’ for the London Olympic Games as has been reported in regard to female athletes from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” FEI President HRH Princess Haya said, “The FEI is in fact already very proud to have been the International Federation to field the first female athlete from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games in 2010, and we are enormously grateful to the IOC, the Saudi National Olympic Committee, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for helping us write that chapter in the history books.”