Ibtihaj Muhammad Will Be the First American Fencer To Compete In the Olympics While Wearing a Hijab.
Thirty-year-old pro fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad will be heading to Rio this summer, where she will become the first Hijab-wearing athlete to represent the United States in the Olympics.
Muhammad first got into fencing at the age 13. She took up the sport at the suggestion of her mother, who convinced her to consider fencing because the uniforms worn would cover up her whole body.
“As a Muslim female, the sport was uniquely accommodating. My religion requires that my body be fully covered and fencing did just that,” says Muhammad.
Since then, Muhammad has gone on to score multiple big wins and medals. She was recruited to fence at Duke University, and continued to compete professionally after graduating. Muhammad is currently ranked 7th in the world and became the first Muslim woman to represent the United States in an international competition.
Ibtihaj credits her mother’s financial support and encouragement as a major part of her success, and admits that many other young athletes aren’t as lucky.
“Historically, it’s always been a white sport reserved for people with money,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a good representation of the U.S., or of society as a whole.”
In addition to fencing, Ibtihaj also owns Louella, a modest clothing company that she runs with her sister, Faizah. Faizah also happens to be a two-time state fencing champion.