Ibtihaj Muhammad, 30, and first veiled American sports to compete at the Olympics, has just lost against her French adversary Cecilia Berder. But beyond this defeat, it is a symbol that is born and a page of history that is being written. Light on this believer and determined athlete.
“I’ve been followed before and, yes, I have felt unsafe,” she said. “And there’s a misconception that Muslim women are forced to wear hijab and that we can’t be in sports. I’m here to challenge those misconceptions. … I remember being told as a kid that I shouldn’t fence because I was black. And it’s like, why? I want to fence.”
Monday afternoon, with eight family members sitting in the first and second rows of Carioca Arena 3, Muhammad defeated Olena Kravatska of Ukraine 15-13 to advance to the round of 16 in saber fencing.
An hour later, Muhammad, ranked No. 7 in the world and seeded eighth in this tournament, charged to a 6-2 lead over France’s Cecilia Berder, aggressively attacking her opponent and deftly lunging and scoring. But then Berder, ranked No. 12 and seeded ninth, rallied and defeated Muhammad 15-12.