Pinay swimmer Alkhaldi gets support from Arab fans

Posted at 07/30/12 2:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino Olympian Jasmine Alkhaldi, who will compete in the 100-meter freestyle event in the London Olympics, is getting lots of support not just from Filipino fans, but also from fans in Saudi Arabia.

The 19-year-old Alkhaldi has received good luck messages and supportive tweets from Arab fans on Twitter in the past few days.

One Twitter follower Khalid (‏@khalidsaudi) expressed hope Alkhaldi would win a gold medal. "We hope you win an Olympic Medal. A lot of people from Saudi follow you, and We wish you the best. Go for gold Jasmine," Khalid tweeted.

Alkhaldi thanked her Arab fans for their support.

"Oh. I can't understand and speak Arabic but THANK YOU so much for all your tweets of support :) I will definitely do my best #fyi," she said on Twitter.

The news website of Al Arabiya News Channel even featured a story on Alkhaldi's popularity with Arab fans.

Alkhaldi was born in Parañaque, to a Saudi father and a Filipino mother. She holds the Philippine record for the 100-m and 50-m butterfly. She won three gold medals in the Southeast Asian Age Group Championships in 2011.

She qualified to the London Games through her participation in the World Championships.

Alkhaldi's success as a swimmer in the Philippines contrasts with the fact that in Saudi Arabia, there are no women's sporting events and girls are barred from participating in sports.

The London Olympics is the first time Saudi Arabia has sent female athletes to compete.

Prior to this year's Games, Saudi authorities had not fielded any female athlete in the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee had viewed the ban as gender discrimination, and had exerted pressure on Saudi Arabia to send female athletes.  Saudi authorities lifted the ban on female athletes competing in the Games last month.