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Afghan girls inspired by Tahmina Kohistani going to Olympics

Kabul: By attending the London Olympics I have given the message to all the Afghan girls that they are talented, they can pursue sport, they can attend international competitions and above all they can earn honour to their country, says Tahmina Kohistani.

The lone Afghan girl to compete at the London Olympics, 23-year-old Kohistani failed to win any medal, but was thrilled to have represented the Afghan women in the London Olympics, reports Xinhua.

"Although I could not win a medal, I was able to represent the Afghan women and I am proud to be the first Afghan girl to participate in the Olympic Games," said the ambitious Kohistani on her return home Tuesday.

In the conservative Afghanistan, it was unbelievable that a girl would participate in a sports event 11 years ago when Taliban regime was in power.

The fundamentalist regime, which collapsed in late 2001 with the US military intervention, had banned schools for girls and confined women to their homes. The outfit also imposed a series of restrictions on men athletes, including insistence on sporting long beard and wearing long trousers while playing.

In the national sport stadium in Kabul -- Ghazi Stadium -- where the athletes in the post-Taliban Afghanistan train daily to improve their skills and ability, Taliban militants during their six-year reign often awarded punishment, including execution and chopping hands and feet of alleged criminals, each Friday which is the Muslim weekly holiday.

A six-member Afghan team to the London Games had Rohullah Nikpa and Nisar Ahmad Bahawi in taekwondo and athletes Masoud Azizi and Kohistani, boxer Aimal Faisal and judoka Ajmal Faizi Zada representing the war-torn, rugged country.

In the men`s 68kg category, the Afghan taekwondo player Nikpa earned bronze medal after beating his rivals Michal Loniewski from Poland 12-5, Martin Stamper from Britain 5-3, David Boui of Central African Republic 14-2 and losing to Iranian player Mohammad Bagheri Motamed. It was the second of its kind earned by Afghanistan, by Nikpa, 25.

The team returned home Tuesday morning and the excited Afghans accordced red-carpet welcome to Nikpa and his entourage as thousands of people, including government officials and lawmakers waited in long queue at Kabul International Airport to receive the Olympic hero and other members of the contingent.

"I would try my best to win gold medal in the next Olympic Games," Nikpa told Xinhua amid hundreds of his admirers.

The people waiting to receive the athletes were proud that one of them earned a bronze at the London Games.