Tahmina Kohistani, the only Afghan female athlete at the London Olympics, might have finished last in the 100 metres race but she said competing in front of 80,000 spectators made her feel like a champion.

“I forgot who I was with the crowd,” said the 23-year-old Kohistani after she finished last in the preliminary round of the sprint on Friday.

“From the beginning, I did not think about winning a gold. Being here is important. Right now I have my gold medal,” she was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

“I know getting a medal in the Olympics is very difficult, but I am here to open a new era for the women of Afghanistan,” said Kohistani, who hopes that her presence at the Games will help break barriers preventing women from practising sport in her country.

“In my society, there is no sport for females. My people do not accept sport for women. They think sport is not good for them.”

Wearing long black trousers, long sleeves and a head scarf with the colours of green, red and black to honour the national flag, Kohistani looked quite different from the other sprinters.

“In Afghanistan it is very different from here. Every day I have to face a lot of problems when I go training. All along there have been people who wanted to disturb me, to stop me,” Kohistani said. “Coming to the Olympics was one of my dreams. It’s more than eight years that I am running.”

“Being a Muslim female athlete is most important for me. I represent a country where every day there are suicide bomb blasts. It is important that a girl from such a country can be here,” she added.

Kohistani was actually the slowest runner in the competition with a sprinter from Qatar failing to finish the race.

“This is my first Games and I am the only girl to represent Afghanistan in athletics,” she said.

“I hope the next generation of women will be proud of me and that they will never forget me. I want them to come and join me,” Kohistani added.

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