Ibtihaj Muhammad will return home from the Rio Olympics without a medal, but with a moral victory that may be worth just as much. Muhammad has been in the center of news leading up to the games because she would be, and has become, the first-ever U.S. Olympian to compete in a hijab.
“I feel like this is a great moment for Team USA to be even more diverse than we have in the past and I’m just looking forward to representing myself, my community and my country,” Muhammad said before the games started, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While the New Jersey fencer lost in the second round, she was able to walk away with a win in the first and further cement her place in Olympic record books. But her road to fencing wasn’t always clear. In her youth, she actually attempted playing other sports, but would receive stares because her body would be fully covered.
“I would get stares,” Muhammad told the Times. “My skin color, my religion, made other people uncomfortable.”
Fortunately, she found a sport where competitors being covered from head-to-toe was the norm in fencing and quickly fell in love with the sport.
If you wanted to see more of Muhammad in action, or see her for the first time, her contribution to the Olympics isn’t done. She and her teammates will be competing in the team event later this week on Aug. 13.
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