The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia clinched its first-ever Olympic gold medal on Thursday, courtesy of Mohammed Ayed Al-Assiri. The 17-year-old karate champ made history after defeating Japan’s Masaki Yamaoka 8-0 in the Men’s Kumite -61kg final at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between October 6 and 18. “I am so happy, so proud,” the teenager told Arab News. “This is the first gold medal for Saudi Arabia and our first medal ever in karate. I have been working towards this moment for 10 years, especially in the past two when my training intensified. I came for gold and this is the result of years of serious work. It was very difficult, but I am just so proud.”
Al-Assiri’s gold medal was the third accolade scooped up by the Kingdom during the 12-day-long sporting event. Saudi Arabia also claimed two bronze medals, one each in the weightlifting and 400-meter hurdles competitions. Though the Gulf country has been competing in the Olympics since 1972, a gold medal has evaded them until now.
In addition to having his name etched into the history books, the prizefighter was also awarded with a whopping SAR 1,000,000 by Turki Al-Sheikh, head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, for his achievement according to the Saudi Gazette. Meanwhile, the teenager has already secured his spot at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, where karate will be making its debut appearance at the Olympics for the first time.