Ibtihaj Muhammad has made history during the 2016 Olympic Games by becoming the first American athlete to compete in a hijab. Muhammad, a fierce competitor in the game of fencing, is competing in the Olympics for the first time this year. While she unfortunately was eliminated from the individual competition on Monday, she and the USA fencing team will have a shot at the gold in the team competition which takes place on Saturday, August 13th
“This has been a beautiful experience for me. I know that this was written for me, the chips fell where they did, and I feel proud to represent Team U.S.A. even in defeat.”'' Muhammad took on the sport of fencing particularly because of her devotion to her faith. Although she had participated in sports such as tennis and volleyball as a child, fencing was one of the only sports that allowed her to stay covered and wear her traditional hijab
She told the NY Times: “My parents were on a mission to find a sport without alteration.” Although Muhammad took on the sport much later than others at the age of 13, she proved to be a phenom in the field and went on to compete throughout college, earning All-American honors three times before devoting herself to the sport after graduation
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She dominates in the saber division of fencing, and states it as being "the closest representation of who I am." Saber fencing competitions are much more aggressive and shorter in length, giving opponents less time to grapple with making tough decisions and process calculated moves. Muhammad's performance as an athlete has led to her being one of the most visible Olympians ever. But her proud identity as a Muslim-American has made her more recognized recently especially when it comes to her responses to Islamophobia, discrimination and anti-Muslim rhetoric
I was just asked to remove my hijab at SXSW Registration for my ID badge.. I can't make this stuff up #SXSW2016— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) March 12, 2016'
Even after I explained it was for religious reasons, he insisted I had to remove my hijab for the photo to receive my badge #SXSW2016 — Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) March 12, 2016 ''