Crowds gather in Ramallah to cheer Palestinian Olympic hero
Hundreds of Palestinians from across the West Bank who gathered Friday night through early Satruday at Yasser Arafat Square in the center of Ramallah to watch live coverage of the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games cheered as the Palestinian Olympic team walked in carrying the Palestinian flag. Mixed feelings of pride and happiness swept through the crowd who waited for more than three hours to watch the Palestinian Olympic team and the flag flying high among 205 flags of countries from around the world.The crowds applauded and cheered when judo player Maher Abu Rmeileh appeared on screen at the event organized by the British consulate in Jerusalem carrying the Palestinian flag followed by the rest of the Palestinian Olympic team. Abu Rmeileh, from Jerusalem, made history by becoming the first Palestinian to qualify for the Olympic Games based on merit in a competition in Japan.The Palestinian Olympic team included sprinters Woroud Sawalha from
Nablus who will compete in the women's 800 meters and Bahaa al-Fara from the Gaza Strip who will compete in the men's 400m.Swimmers Sabine Hazboun from Bethlehem will compete in the women's 50m freestyle swimming and Ahmad Gibril who was born in Egypt will compete in the men's 400m freestyle swimming. Gibril came third when he competed against four other swimmers in the competition that took place at noon on Saturday, which means he did not qualify for other swim competitions.Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee Jibril Rajoub were in London for the opening ceremony and to give a boost to the Palestinian team.The Palestinian team is scheduled to compete on July 28 and 30 and August 3 and 8.M.H./M.S.
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