London 2012 Olympics: Iranian woman turned to paddling after being forbidden from wearing swimsuit
Telegraph / Nick Hoult

Arezou Hakimimoghaddam, from Tehran, competed in the women’s kayak 200 metres sprint at Eton Dorney on Friday, finishing seventh in her heat at the Olympics.

The 17 year-old spent six years training in women’s only pools in Iran but was prevented from competing internationally because of laws preventing her wearing a swimsuit.

“In Iran, swimming is only allowed for ladies on their own,” she said. “If swimming is in front of other ladies, there is not a problem.

"We don’t have any representatives internationally in swimming and I wanted to go to another level.”

She wore a hijab and full body wetsuit at Eton Dorney this week.

“I hope that at the next Olympics in 2016 we have more athletes. It’s been a great experience being here and I hope that I will be at the next Olympics I can be champion.

“When I get back, I will be training very hard for the next Olympics and the Asian Games. My family are very happy that I am here, my colleagues and my friends – all of them are happy.”

The London Games are the first to feature women competing in all 26 sports.

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