Ibithaj Muhammad is the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab…
Ibtihaj Muhammad joined the U.S. Olympics team in Rio this August as part of the U.S. fencing team. She has been playing the sport and wielding a sabre since she was only thirteen years old starting when she attended Columbia High School. “It’s been such a blessing for me to discover the sport of fencing,” Muhammad said, “Because it was the first time in my life where I really felt a part of the team.”
Muhammad had been interested in sports from an even earlier age than thirteen, but because of her religious beliefs she found herself having to change the uniform of whatever sport she played in order to keep her body covered. While her parents encouraged her to continue to play sports, they would also buy shirts with long sleeves or longer pants to make the uniform appropriate for what they believed. Soon enough Muhammad’s mother happened to come across fencing, a sport where the uniform covers your entire body.
Muhammad’s mother wasn’t familiar with the sport of fencing at first, but the uniforms were what caught her eye. It seemed to be the perfect compromise right away. To allow her daughter to continue to play sports without having to risk going against their belief system and Muhammad’s mother encouraged her to try it when she got into high school. Ibithaj Muhammad took right to the sport and in 2015 was ranked as the number seven best sabre fencer in the world.
According to Ibithaj Muhammad she has only received praise and good feedback since she made the US team for the Rio Olympics. Alongside fencing Muhammad has also accomplished other things. She graduated Duke University in 2007 obtaining bachelor’s degrees in international relations and in African and African-American studies. Muhammad also serves the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative. With this job she has traveled the world to talk about sports education. On top of that Muhammad had also launched her own clothing line in 2014 called Louella. The aim of her fashion line is to bring modest clothing that is also fashionable to the U.S. market.