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Olympian Klassen inaugurates West Bank women's gym
Cindy Klassen, six-time Olympic medalist in speed skating, inaugurates West Bank women's gym
Associated Press
2014-03-02 11:42 PM

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen, a six-time Olympic medalist, has helped inaugurate a $1.2 million indoor gym for Palestinian women in the biblical town of Bethlehem.

Women's participation in sports is still relatively unusual in conservative Palestinian society, which encourages gender separation in many spheres of public life.

Several women's soccer teams have formed in recent years, but lack training facilities.

The 1,300-square-meter (14,000-square-feet) sports center, funded by the Canadian Lutheran World Relief, opened Sunday. It will also offer training space to volleyball and basketball teams as well as tennis players.

Klassen, 34, says that "women here in the West Bank don't get many opportunities in sports." She says she hopes the center will allow Palestinian women to train and build confidence along the way.

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