London 2012 Olympics: Tahmina Kohistani, Afghan female sprinter, on her 'special' experience at the Games

Tahmina Kohistani, Afghanistan's only female competitor at the Olympics, on the unique challenges she faces as an athlete and her hopes for the 100 metres.

Tahmina Kohistani - London 2012 Olympics: Tahmina Kohistani, Afghanistan's only female competitor, on her 'special' experience
Pioneer: sprinter Tahmina Kohistani is enjoying a unique, if sometimes lonely, life as Afghanistan's only female competitor at the London 2012 Olympics Photo: HEATHCLIFF O'MALLEY

I race for the first time here on Friday in my heats and I am already imagining what it will be like to compete at the Olympic Stadium.
I am going to wear the Islamic hijab when I run because I am here from an Islamic country and from a Muslim family. In Islam it is allowed for us to do sport but in a hijab, not without. If ever we did it without a hijab, you could say that we are not Muslim. It is even more important because we are now in Ramadan, a very important month for Muslim countries and for Muslim people, and I should respect this and wear very, very respectful dress.
I have been training in the stadium in the Village. It is going well — it is much easier to run here than in Afghanistan. I had a lot of problems over there — social problems, with men shouting things at me, and also some technical problems: we don’t have good facilities. But the track here is amazing and there is no-one to disturb me.
I like to run to both Indian and American music. I listen to Jennifer Lopez when I train sometimes. Whenever I am happy I am wearing my headphones and listening to music. But sometimes my coach says “you are not ready for training whatsoever” and when that happens it is time to take the earphones out! I know this is the Olympics so I have to focus everything on my training.
Being in the Village is very special. I have a nice room and I have put the flag of my country on the wall to remind me of home. I’ve also written my programme on some paper so I don’t forget what I’m going to do tomorrow. I have my family photos on the table so whenever I wake up, I look at them because I’m missing them all very much.
I know there are lots of incredible athletes here. Like everyone, I want to meet Usain Bolt because he is the fastest man in the world and very famous. I would like to have a photo with him — I’ve watched his races and I can only dream of being as fast as him.
I would also really like to meet the world champion of boxing, Mary Kom from India, because I recognise her life story and Olympic dreams. I feel I am like her because she came from a very poor family and right now she is the champion of the world. But right now she’s very famous. She has a boxing academy for children which is the reason I want to meet her. She is doing everything not for herself but for others.