Seeing athletes breaking barriers all over the world is often very inspirational. Watching a hijabi female athlete break those barriers can be even more inspiring. Unfortunately, female athletes often stay very underexposed and that’s why it’s important to highlight them. This is: 5 hijabi women who are making their way into the sports world.
1. Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencer
In 2016, Ibtihaj Muhammad amazed the world by becoming the first American Muslim to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab. Unfortunately, she only made it into the second round of the individual tournament.
Yet, she managed to become the first ever American Muslim to earn a medal: she’s part of the USA fence team, who succeeded to earn a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. The Guardian even named Ibtihaj the symbol of America’s diversity and tolerance!
2. Amaiya Zafar, boxer
Zafar is only 16 years old, but she can’t live without boxing. She only started three years ago and she keeps on improving. Now, she fights on an amateur level but sadly she’s not able to fully showcase her talent because of her hijab. Her headscarf and long-sleeved shirt and leggings aren’t prohibited by the rules of boxing associations.
In an interview with MPR News, Zafar said that she loves boxing, but that her religion (Islam) is too important to her. Taking off her hijab isn’t an option for her.
For more personal stories and ambition, you should check out her blog: http://www.amaiyazafar.com/
3. Stephanie Kurlow, ballerina
Ever since she was a little kid, the Australian Stephanie Kurlow dreamt of being a Ballerina. When she converted to Islam in 2010, Kurlow had to quit ballet school because she couldn’t find a dancing school that matched her principles of wearing a hijab. Last Januari, she started a crowdfunding campaign to create an art school for everyone.
4. Zahra Lari, figure skater
Zahra Lari is a figure skater from the United Arabic Emirates. In 2011, she became the first athlete from the Gulf Region to compete in an international tournament. In 2017, Nike included the ice princess in an ad for their new Nike Pro Hijab, featuring other Muslim athletes as well.
Lari surprised everyone as she became the first hijabi figure skater. She aspires to become the first Emirati athlete to represent the UAE in the 2018 Winter Olympics. She dreams of inspiring other young women with her story as well.
5. Amna Al Haddad, weightlifter
She started out doing crossfit, but Al Haddad eventually decided to go for a career as a weightlifter. The 27-year-old Emirati gained recognition in 2012 by becoming the first hijabi to compete at CrossFit Asia. One year later, she successfully started her weightlifting career. She became the first hijabi weightlifter and earned six gold medals and three silver medals in 2015 at the International Weightlifting Federation Asian Interclub Championships in Jordan. Sadly the UAE didn’t select Al Haddad for last years Olympics in Rio. Happily she didn’t let that get in her way of being an inspiration to women all over the world!