London 2012 Olympic Games Diary: 8 August

Well, this was a rather barren day for Team GB on the medal front. Our show jumpers were particularly unlucky to miss out after a couple of first round clears. But there are more medals to come with five boxers through to their semi-finals and several of our sailors going into their medal races well-placed. Also, Olympic 10000m champion Mo Farah will be aiming to do the double after qualifying for the final of the 5000m, whilst Shanaze Reade got safely through the BMX seeding race.

Perhaps the most intriguing story today was the first female Saudi Arabian track and field athlete, Sarah Attar, at the Olympics. She was competing on the proviso that she wore ‘appropriate’ attire. Appropriate attire from the Saudi leadership’s religious perspective that is. She made it home in the 800m a long way behind the rest but got a great reception from the London crowd as she crossed the line. Let’s hope that this is a step towards greater freedom in her part of the world. But I won’t hold my breath.

The main reason that she was able to compete was because of what looked rather like a form of liberal intervention by the IOC. The IOC essentially said ‘Let women join in or we won’t let you guys play with your horses in the Olympics’. But does this kind of threat carry weight in the intervening years between Olympic Games or will the Saudis get away with merely making a token effort to comply with the rules for a few weeks every four years?

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