29 July 2012 - Later today, when he faces a Hungarian athlete in the Judo competition, Ajmal Faizzada, 25, will become the first Afghan athlete to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. This year Afghanistan has sent six athletes to the games, including one woman. They will be competing in boxing, taekwondo, judo and athletics.
On Monday Afghan Boxer Ajmal Faisal will face an opponent from France. The country's lone female athlete in London, Tehmina Kohistan, a sprinter, will compete on August 3.
The next day Masood Aziz, another Afghan runner, will compete. She is only the third female to represent her country at the Olympics. At the 2004 games in Athens Robina Muqim Yar, a sprinter, and Frida Razayee, a Judo athlete, competed.
“The high hope of Afghanistan for winning a medal is in the taekwondo competition, where Rohallah Nekpa and Nisar Ahmed Bahawi are both considered serious contenters. Both of these taekwondo players are experienced and have had special preparations for the competition,” said Arif Paiman, the spokesman for the National Olympics Committee of Afghanistan.
So far Afghanistan has won only a single medal in Olympics. That was in 2008 in Beijing, when Rohullah Nekpa, taekwondo athlete in the flyweight class, brought home a bronze medal. Nekpa is competing again this year. The other Taekwondo player, Nisar ahmed Bahawi, 29, who was also Afghanistan’s flag-carrier during the opening ceremony, will face an opponent on August 10 in the under-80 kilo class. Since Nekpa's performance in Beijing, taekwondo has blossomed throughout Afghanistan. These days there are more than 500 taekwondo clubs throughout the country.
This years event marks the third time that Afghanistan has sent athletes to the summer Olympics since the fall of the Taliban. In 1999 the country was briefly suspended from competing at the Olympics because of the the Taliban's treatment of women. The first time Afghanistan competed at an Olympics was at the 1936 competition in Berlin, when athletes competed in athletics and in hockey.