Sarah Attar is a 22-year-old cross-country runner and hers is an inspiring story. 3 years ago, at the 2012 London Olympics, Sarah competed in the 800 meters. She finished last, in a uniform with long sleeves, pants, and a covered head. This was consistent with female Islamic dress code. Despite Sarah finishing last, the crowds gave her a standing ovation. It was the effort that mattered, and everybody who was in the audience was privy to that.
Sarah has dual citizenship – American and Saudi Arabian – and she grew up in San Diego, California. She started her running journey in high school but only became serious in college. She started with cross-country, which was usually 6K, but then in her sophomore year she trained and ran the Big Sur Marathon. Prior to the Olympic training, Sarah had only ever run the 800m once in school, therefore her performance at the Olympics was commending.
Sarah’s performance was televised all over Saudi Arabia (though some television channels didn’t broadcast it), and overall it was received better than expected. On a visit to Saudi Arabia, Sarah understood how much she inspires young girls in the country. They look up to her, and she feels that even if it means just tiny steps towards getting more women’s gyms open, and having young Saudi girls dream of competing in the Olympics, her effort is worth it.
Sarah and her mother put together her outfit for the Olympics. Despite not training in a hijab, Sarah knew it was important for her to dress in accordance with Islamic dress code for the Olympics since she was representing Saudi Arabia. She treats the outfit like any uniform and wears it like how one would with a team. It is that spirit that makes her shine.
Sarah recently signed a sponsorship with the apparel brand Oiselle and appeared on a banner along this year’s Boston Marathon Course, setting a new personal record of 3:18:37.
Here’s to more women like Sarah Attar, who train, run, compete and slay without noticing the hurdles in front of them. Kudos!