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Posts Tagged ‘Wojdan Shaherkani’

Photo: Ben Sutherland via Flickr.com

Did you watch Ryan Lochte outswim Michael Phelps?

Or witness the U.S. men’s gymnastics team struggle only for the Fierce Five to dominate the women’s team event?

If you’re anything like the members of my family, you haven’t missed a single moment of the major Olympic events.

But for fans around the world, the stars of the 30th Modern Olympiad aren’t just in the pool, gym, or on the track. They compete in weight lifting, team handball, Judo, and other sports that may seem “less mainstream” to Americans. Still, these athletes are considered superstars in their home countries.

Here’s a glimpse at some of this year’s Olympic international all-stars.

Weightlifting

Photo: Greatist via Flickr.com

Don’t let Pimsiri Sirikaew’s height fool you. At 4’11”, the flight attendant from Thailand was a heavy favorite to medal. Her silver will surely earn as much honor as her teammate Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon’s 2008 gold medal.

Virtually unknown before 2008, Iranian champion Behdad Salimikordasiabi of the men’s competition has taken the winner’s podium in one international competition after another over the past four years. It’s no surprise that he dominated the Olympic stage, winning gold in the +105kg event.

Team Handball

Photo: SH Photography / hegi.info via Flickr.com

Ever heard of team handball? If you have, you can forget the one-on-one competitions you would typically see at gyms and playgrounds. This is a serious sport played by 800,000 teams in 183 countries, and is projected to be a major moneymaker in London.

If you’re planning on watch the event, don’t expect to cheer on Team USA because it’s the only entry in which Americans are not represented. Instead, you can root for Norway, Korea, Spain, or Montanegro, the semifinalists heading into the final week of competitions.

Judo

Phot0: Clicks2006 via Flickr.com

Historically, Japan has ruled this sport, but French heavyweight Teddy Riner took top honors.

Although she didn’t make it past the first round, Wojdan Shaherkani made history as the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete. She even had competitors rally behind her to convince officials to permit her wearing a traditional headscarf during the match.

Their 15 minutes of fame

This is just a sampling of the many Olympic competitions going on right now. They may not always draw the biggest headlines, but for fans of the sport and from the 204 nations represented, it’s a moment in the international limelight.

Be sure to check out the August issue of Healthcare Traveler for a feature on mobile professionals who use assignments to participate in their sport of choice, such as marathons, CrossFit, and equestrian eventing.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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