(WOMENSENEWS)—During the first week of the 2012 Olympics in London, female contestants have hit the headlines in a variety of ways. Here's a roundup of the news clips to date, both glory-filled and not-so-much.
AP: Saudi Cleared to Fight with Hijab
A female judo fighter from Saudi Arabia will be allowed to compete in the Olympics wearing a form of headscarf after a compromise was reached that respects the "cultural sensitivity" of the Muslim kingdom, the Associated Press reported. Judo officials had previously said they would not let Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani compete in a headscarf because it was against the principles of the sport and raised safety concerns.
BBC: Disqualified from Badminton
Eight badminton players have been disqualified from the women's doubles competition after being accused of "not using one's best efforts to win," the BBC reported. Two pairs from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia made a series of basic errors in July 31 matches. All were accused of wanting to lose in an attempt to manipulate the round-robin format which would lead to an easier match-up in the next round.
Reuters: Chinese Swimmer Denies Doping
China has firmly rejected suggestions of doping as tensions build over the astonishing performance of a 16-year-old Chinese swimmer. Reuters reported that Ye Shiwen swam the 400 medley on July 28 five seconds inside her personal best, covering the last 50 metres of freestyle faster than American Ryan Lochte, who won the equivalent men's event in the second-best time in history. BBC reported that a U.S. coach had raised suspicions about doping, calling her outstanding performance “disturbing.” She denied doping on July 30, telling the China News Service: "My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs." British Olympics Chief, Colin Moynihan, defended the swimmer. “She's clean. That's the end of the story. Ye Shiwen deserves recognition for her talent," said Moynihan.
AP: Kazakhstan Wrestler Sets Record
Maiya Maneza has won Kazakhstan’s second weightlifting gold medal in London and set an Olympic record in the women’s 63-kilogram category, Associated Press reported.
BBC: Swimmer Marks a First for Lithuania
Fifteeen-year-old Ruta Meilutyte won Lithuania's first ever Olympic gold in the swimming pool by beating American Rebecca Soni in the women's 100m breaststroke on July 30, BBC reported. She broke the European record and swam the fourth fastest time in history in the semi-finals.
NPR: Vollmer Breaks a Butterfly Record
American Dana Vollmer earned a gold medal and smashed a world record by swimming a 55.98-second 100-meter butterfly on July 29, NPR reported. Vollmer was diagnosed as a teenager with two life-threatening heart conditions that prompted her mom to carry a defibrillator to Dana's races. The heart problems were fixed, but Vollmer had to battle tons of injuries. She won a relay gold medal at the 2004 Olympics but then failed to qualify for the games in 2008. Asked, "How does it feel?" she choked out: "It's cool."
NYT: U.S. Skeet Shooter Wins 5 in a Row
Kim Rhode became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympic Games. The New York Times reported that Rhode earned a gold medal in women’s skeet on July 29, setting an Olympic record and tying the world record. She also became the first woman to win three gold medals in Olympic shooting.
Forbes and the Flick on Volleyball Bikinis
Before the London Games, the International Olympic Committee relaxed a rule requiring that female beach volleyball players wear bikinis, but that hasn’t changed the de facto dress code. Forbes reported on the International League for Women’s Rights' protest in London against gender discrimination in sport last week. The Flick’s critical commentary called out news commentary that referred to the athletes as “babes in bikinis” and “glistening wet otters.”
LA Times: Testosterone-Testing Contentious
The International Olympic Committee used testosterone levels to determine whether athletes are male or female and that has horrified Dr. Andrew Sinclair, the LA Times reports. Sinclair, who identified one of the genes that had been used as an Olympic sex test, said: “Gender and sex are not black-and-white issues. We are all on a spectrum somewhere.”
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