Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Citius, Altius, Fortius

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Citius, Altius, Fortius

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Citius, Altius, Fortius

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen , published July 30:

Seven brave young women made history on July 27 at the 2012 London Olympics.

For the first time female Olympians from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei will compete in the Games -aking the 2012 Games the first to have female participants from every nation.

Saudi judoka Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani and runner Sarah Attar's march in the Parade of Nations alongside their male teammates - faces beaming with pride, waving Saudi flags and giving the V for Victory sign to the crowd - may one day be remembered in much the same light as African-American athlete Jesse Owen's victories at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.

Saudi Arabia one of the most socially conservative countries in the world. Women there face not just systemic, but institutionalized and legislated, sexism in the highest degree.

For Saudi officials to allow women not just to participate in sports, but to represent their country on the highest international stage, is a victory greater than any gold medal.

Like Owens, support in their home country is far from universal. Conservative Saudi clerics and others used Twitter to deride the pair as, "Olympic whores," and worse.

After returning to the U.S. in 1936, Owens had to ride the freight elevator up to a reception in his honour at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The main elevators were reserved for whites only.

People's views often take time to change, but moments like Friday can speed that process along.

When Owens stood at the top of the podium in 1936, he probably never imagined a black man would one day say the words, "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States..."

The Olympics have been the scene of many inspiring, thrilling and historic moments: Harold Abraham's run - immortalized in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire - in the 1924 Games in Paris; 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 gymnastics routines in Montreal; Derek Redmond limping across the finish line with a torn hamstring, supported by his father, in the 400 m final in Barcelona; Michael Phelps' and Usain Bolt's incredible showings in Bejing; Greg Louganis' recovery from hitting his head on a diving board to win a pair of gold medals in 1988; and many others. …

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