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Original Issue

Much More Than a Race

None of the five Muslim women who competed in the 100 meters advanced past the first round last Friday, but their very participation was a Games highlight. "This is the most important day of my life," said 18-year-old Iraqi Alaa' Jassim, who began training in the 100 just a year ago. She finished last in her heat in 12.70 seconds.

Danah Al Nasrallah, 16, became the first Kuwaiti woman to compete in the Olympics. The heat she ran (she was last in 13.92 seconds) was her first competitive 100. "This," she said, "will open the door for women in my country." Rakia Al Gassra of Bahrain was timed in 11.49, while Robina Muqim Yaar of Afghanistan clocked a 14.14 to edge Fartun Abukar Omar of Somalia, who had the slowest overall time of 14.29. Of the five only Al Gassra (inset) ran in full hejab, covered from head to toe. --T.L.