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Olympic history: Ibtihaj Muhammad becomes first US Olympian to compete in a hijab

Olympic history: Ibtihaj Muhammad becomes first US Olympian to compete in a hijab

"I hope I can change minds..."

Text: Faizal Dahlawia


Image: Reuters

As the US grapples with the Muslim rhetoric during the election campaign, an incredible Olympic story was unfolding, culminating in a history-making event in Rio...

US fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad has made national history by becoming the first Olympian to compete in a hijab when she took to the fencing arena at the ongoing Rio Games. Though she lost the sabre competition in the round of 16, her history-making participation ensured she remained in the spotlight.

Ibtihaj Muhammad Rio Olympics Hijab

When asked if the matter had overshadowed her fencing achievements, Muhammad replied, "No, I think that being Muslim and being the first Muslim woman to represent Team USA, while wearing the hijab, is a part of my story and it's a part of my journey."

Ibtihaj Muhammad Rio Olympics Hijab

While Muhammad failed to win an individual medal, her involvement in the team event this weekend could still see her stand on the podium come August 13. She's also relishing the opportunity to represent the Muslim community: "Now that I'm not just representing myself but representing so many people is really touching for me," before adding, "I hope that I can change minds and people's perceptions this summer. That's my biggest goal."

For another inspiring Olympic story, read about Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini's incredible Olympic journey.  

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