Shaherkani, 16, walked onto the judo mat and bowed to her opponent Melissa Mojica of Puerto Rico before grippng up to make history.
But her debut lasted just 82 seconds before she was thrown for the maximum ippon.
She broke down in tears in her father’s arms — himself a referee at the competition — as the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
“I’m proud, I’m happy and I want to continue in judo. I want to thank the fans for their support,” said Shaherkani after it was all over.
“I was disturbed and afraid at the beginning, it was my first time in a big competition and there was a lot of pressure because of the hijab issue.”
Shaherkani’s headwear almost cost her this opportunity after International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer said she wouldn’t be allowed to compete in a hijab.
In the end a deal was struck between judo officials and Saudi authorities and she appeared in a black, swimming cap.
Once the euphoria of her moment had died down, the business of chasing the last two judo gold medals on offer at these Games took centre stage.