Afghan athlete Zakia Khudadadi competes at Tokyo Paralympics after fleeing Kabul

Credit: ITV News/AP

A 23-year-old Afghan athlete has become the first woman to represent her country at the Paralympic Games after fleeing violence and conflict in her home country.

Taekwondo competitor Zakia Khudadadi's hopes of competing in Tokyo were almost dashed as she struggled to leave Afghanistan amid the Taliban insurgency. ITV News filmed her in tears outside Kabul following failed attempts to enter the city's airport.

However, Ms Khudadadi and teammate Hossain Rasouli arrived in Tokyo days after the Paralympics opened - both fleeing Kabul to Paris, and then on to Tokyo.

The pair were among those airlifted out of Taliban-controlled Kabul by the Royal Australian Air Force after a co-ordinated rescue effort.

ITV News Senior International Affairs Editor John Irvine saw Zakia Khudadadi in Kabul upset as she walked through crowds struggling to leave Afghanistan last month

The athletes were cleared by armed forces to enter the protected zone after showing emergency visa documentation from Australia.

They were then taken to Paris to help recover from the trauma of being in Afghanistan, before making the trip to Tokyo. 

On Thursday, she lost her first-round match in Taekwondo in the 44-49-kilogram weight class to Ziyodakhon Isakova of Uzbekistan 17-12.

Afghanistan's Zakia Khudadadi reacts after competing against Ziyodakhon Isakova of Uzbekistan during their women's K44 49kg Taekwondo match. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, teammate Hossain Rasouli competed on Tuesday in the long jump, where he finished last.

Rasouli is a sprinter, but he arrived several days late to compete in the 100-meter race.

International Paralympic Committee spokesman Craig Spence said they will start to have conversations about what happens next following the closing ceremony.

He said: "We've left them be for the last few days to focus on competition."

"We'll now start to have conversations about what happens in terms of the closing ceremony and where they go next. Those are the conversations we'll be having in the coming days."