Meet Saudi Arabia’s Female Taekwondo Star Abu Taleb Who Makes Olympic History

Saudi Arabi’s Donia Abu Taleb, a prominent taekwondo athlete, has broken barriers in her pursuit of sporting excellence.

The 27-year-old has become the first Saudi woman to qualify for the Olympics and is now setting her sights on winning the Gulf Kingdom’s first gold medal at the upcoming Paris Games.

Growing up in Jeddah, she faced limited opportunities to compete against other female athletes.

Moreover, instead, she trained at a boys’ club, where she stood out as the only girl among her male counterparts.

Reflecting on her early experiences, Abu Taleb said, “Playing with the boys distinguished me and made me strong… I love the challenge.” Her dedication and resilience have paid off, as she has now emerged as a trailblazer for women’s sports in Saudi Arabia.

Expanding Women’s Rights

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Riyadh has pursued reforms aimed at expanding women’s rights and promoting their involvement in various fields, including athletics.

These efforts have included granting women the right to drive, encouraging their participation in the workforce, and investing in women’s sports, such as football.

Abu Taleb has benefited from these changes, receiving increased support from the state.

Worth mentioning, her achievements include winning gold at the 2020 Arab Taekwondo Championship, as well as securing bronze medals at the Asian and world championships in 2022.

Bolstering confidence ahead of the Olympics

Earlier this year, she clinched gold at the Asian Taekwondo Championships, further bolstering her confidence ahead of the Olympics.

Her success at the Games would not only mark a personal triumph but also serve as a significant milestone for Saudi Arabia’s campaign to rebrand itself as a sports hub.

Additionally, the country has already secured hosting rights for major sporting events, including the 2027 Asian Cup football tournament, the 2029 Asian Winter Games, and the 2034 Asian Games.

Saudi Arabia’s ambition to host an Olympics

The Saudi government’s long-term ambition is to host an Olympics, as stated by Saudi Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal.

Abu Taleb’s rapid rise in taekwondo has caught the attention of officials, leading to her recruitment of esteemed Russian coach Kurban Bogdaev.

Bogdaev, who previously guided Tunisian athlete Mohamed Jendoubi to a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, recognized Abu Taleb’s initial potential and has witnessed her transformation into a formidable competitor.

Abu Taleb’s preparations

Preparing an Olympic champion requires years of dedicated effort, and the Saudi Taekwondo Federation acknowledges the significance of their athlete’s progress.

Moreover, Shaddad Al-Omari, the federation’s president, emphasized that Abu Taleb’s journey has been a state-supported project.

As Abu Taleb’s historic Olympic debut approaches, she understands the weight of expectations on her shoulders. However, she remains resolute and determined to succeed.

“As the first Saudi woman to qualify for the Olympics, I have reached the stage of kill or be killed,” she stated. “I have reached a place where I must achieve something.”

As she prepares to represent Saudi Arabia on the global stage, her achievements serve as an inspiration for aspiring female athletes and symbolize the nation’s evolving stance on women’s sports.

Saudi Arabia’s Female Taekwondo Star Abu Taleb
Saudi Arabia’s Female Taekwondo Star Abu Taleb
Saudi Arabia’s Female Taekwondo Star Abu Taleb
Saudi Arabia’s Female Taekwondo Star Abu Taleb
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