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        Aug  20, 2008

Iraq's Dana Abdulrazak proud to be in Olympics

After bullets, bombs and red tape, Iraq's Dana Abdulrazak wins by just taking part in Olympic Games.

Iraq's Dana Abdulrazak, who braved sniper fire and bombs in order to train and withstood a bid to ban her over Olympic politics, was a winner just by starting the women's 100 meters opening heats Saturday.

Never mind the results showed that she finished sixth in the second heat in 12.36 seconds, 59th overall in a field of 85, and failed to qualify for the second round.

What they did not show was how much it meant for her to represent her strife-torn homeland.

"It wasn't important to be first. It was important to represent Iraq," she said. "I feel very excited. I'm very proud to be in the Olympic Games. I'm very happy to be here."

Abdulrazak's participation, and that of all Iraqi athletes, was in doubt in June when the IOC suspended Iraq for "political interference" in its national Olympic committee, sacked in May over corruption allegations.

A deal was struck last month to lift the ban and that allowed Abdulrazak, 22, to realize the dream that kept her training day after day while dodging bullets and bombs.

"Once when I was training in Baghdad a sniper opened fire on me," Abdulrazak said. "There are many bombs. When you are on the way to the stadium, you don't know what will happen to you.

"It's very difficult to train in Iraq because of the bad situations."

The US-led invasion in 2003 have made simple things like finding a safe place to run difficult, making Iraq dangerous for everyone in addition to pushing the country into the edge of civil war, but Abdulrazak vows she will fight on.

"I will still continue my training and my sport," she said. "When the sniper opened fire on me, I went back and trained in the same place 30 minutes later. I will continue my training, even if there are snipers."

Improving on her time, shy of her personal best, is important to Adbulrazak.

"I'm not satisfied with the results. It's not my best time," she said. "I'm also unhappy about what happened with the politics between the Olympics and the government."

"I'm really happy to compete in 2008 Beijing. I'm happy. I like this," she said. "I'm the champion for Afghanistan."