CAIRO – An American female Muslim fencer who made history by competing for her country in a hijab is making history once more after she was qualified to Rio De Janeiro, becoming the first veiled Muslim athlete to compete at the Olympics.
“I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender,” Ibtihaj Muhammad says in her USA Fencing bio, TeamUSA.org reported on Tuesday, February 2.
“I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.”
Muhammad’s fencing days started when she was only 13 when her mother drove past a school and saw athletes training in full body covering gear.
The uniform which they wear for fencing basically inspired her, seeing it as allowing her girl to be an athlete in hijab.
Today she is the world’s 10th swords woman, and is America’s first Muslim Fencer in the world.
She became fully committed to the sport only after earning her degree at Duke University.
“After I graduated from college, I saw there was a lack of minorities in the sport,” Muhammad told TeamUSA.org.
“I recognized that I had a skill set, so I started to pursue fencing full time. I felt that it was something the squad needed. There were barriers that needed to be broken in women’s saber.”
This season was a great success to the 30-year-old fencer, earning bronze medals at two of the three world cups held so far.
After earning bronze at the Athens world cup on Saturday, Muhammad mathematically secured her spot on the 2016 Olympic team.
Muhammad is the second athlete in USA Fencing’s national team to qualify to the Olympics, behind two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis.
In addition to Muhammad’s bronzes from the 2015-16 season, she claimed the silver medal at a world cup stop in 2013, and has seven team world cup medals.
Muhammad has also been part of the US teams that have medaled at the past five world championships, including winning gold in 2014.