Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Mosaic_ Thrill of Victory; Agony of Defeat

Since I am a human secularist and a Turkish-American, I thought it would delightfully ironic to post an entry dedicated to a Muslim athlete from Kuwait who wore a hijab while competing at the 2012 London Olympics as well as mention a major success in women's weight-lifting for Armenia, one of Turkey's main rivals.

For Turkey, it was a day of great athletic glory and tremendous agony at the same time; the explanation for that will follow.

Here is a run-down of some unique Olympic stories we have come across, alas since time is short, we will skip details we might otherwise try to go further into.

*-Turkey (4-1) has been an unexpected success at the 2012 London Olympics in women's basketball as the squad won over Croatia 70-65 today with 14 points from Quanitra Hollingsworth, who is an American who obtained Turkish citizenship to compete for Turkey's national team. Nevriye Yilmaz added nine rebounds and Birsel Vardarli (pictured top with her infant child) and Isil Alben added three assists. The only loss for Turkey came against the United States, which is the overwhelming favorite to win gold.

*-Turkey (2-3) was not able to come through in women's volleyball in spite of high expectations, given that the team ranked eighth in the world. The top-ranked United States team (5-0)  won in straight sets (25-27, 16-25, 19-25) with Destinee Hooker providing 17 spikes for the Americans. In defeat, Turkish star Nesilhan Darnel, the country's flag-bearer put forth a valiant effort; Turkey lead 13-7 in the first set before a major rally from the American side.

*-The 2012 London Olympics are the first ones in which female athletes from all 204 nations and territories are competing and that includes every Islamic country competing. One of those athletes is Maryam Arzouqi, 25 (pictured center), of Kuwait who learned about through a sports blog related to Muslim female athletes. Arzouqi who competes while wearing the hijab finished 44th in the 50-m rifle shoot, which was won by American Jamie Lynn Gray. The Kuwaiti college student also finished 28th in the 10-m rifle, an event that was won by Sylwia Bogacka of Poland.

*-Armenia had a very successful day in the United Kingdom as the former Soviet Republic won a silver medal in men's wrestling (Arsan Julfalakyan); in women's sports, Hripsime Khurshudyan (pictured below), who actually does not boast the longest name so far at the games (that distinction appears to belong to an Iranian wrestler) won a bronze medal in women's weight-lifting. Zhou Lulu (gold, China) and Tatiana Kashirina (silver, Russia) finished ahead of her.

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