Even before the Beijing Summer Olympics begin on Friday, Habiba Hinai is tasting victory.
For the first time her country is sending a female Olympian to the games. Buthaina Yaqoubi, 16, will compete in the 100-meter dash and either the long jump or the triple jump.
Hinai, one of three women to represent Oman by bearing the Olympic torch during the relay earlier this year, is vice-chair of Oman's Volleyball Association, the highest position for any woman in the country's sports scene.
For 18 years she has advocated for the advancement of women's athletics in her country, seeing it expand from an activity only available in schools in 1993 to the formation of national women's volleyball, tennis and table tennis teams in 2004.
Now that her country is sending female competitors to the games, Hinai says she can start looking forward to the day when more Muslim women join the International Olympic Committee and Olympic Asian Committee. "That's the only way to develop sports in the Muslim world."
The 135-member International Olympic Committee, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, has 15 female members. Two are former Olympians from Arab Muslim countries: Morocco's 1984 track-and-field 400-meter star Nawal El Moutawakel, the first Arab woman to earn a gold medal, and Egyptian swimmer Rania Elwani, who competed from 1992 through 2000.
Nine men from Arab and Muslim countries also serve on the committee, which organizes the games and represents its 205 national members.
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