Ibtihaj Muhammad - Olympic Athlete

Ibtihaz of African descent was born in New Jersey, USA. The father was in the police and the mother taught at a nearby school. Most of the families in the locality where they lived were of African descent. These people were from minority communities. These were families whose ancestors had left Africa years ago and settled in America. Apparently, their living, dialect was somewhat different from that of Native American citizens. But now he was an American citizen and thus he had all the basic rights like education, employment, security which a common American citizen gets.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Father was very busy in office work, so the responsibility of teaching and writing of the four children was on the mother. Till the primary class, Ibtihaz never had any problem with his appearance. Most of the children in the school she attended were of African descent, so she did not feel any difference. But in the primary school, he encountered some children who were of American descent. They were all white. Gradually Ibtihaz began to understand the difference between African and American origin. Mother always wore full arms. She used to come out of the house wearing a hijab on her head. This was common for his society. Ibtihaz also started going to school wearing a hijab. No one in school ever interrupted him for this, but sometimes while walking in a restaurant or park, he feels that people are staring at him. Mother always taught him to ignore such things. Mother had only one wish that children should read a lot and choose the career of their choice.

Ibtihaj's interest in sports began to grow while studying at Columbia High School. All the girls in school played badminton and tennis. She also wanted to choose one of these sports. He also practiced it several times at home. She was sure that if trained, she could become a great player. But when it came to choosing the game, his dress became a big problem. Girls playing badminton and tennis wore skirts. But mother did not allow him to do this. He then realized for the first time that he was different from the rest of the girls. Ibtihaz says - Initially I loved tennis and badminton, but I was not allowed to go to these sports. Later I chose swordsmanship, as it did not prohibit wearing full arms. Since all swordsmen wear helmets on the head for protection, no one had any problem with wearing my hijab.

At the age of thirteen, Ibtihaj began to learn fencing. He got a place in the junior team the very first year. His first coach was Frank Mustili. In 2002, he joined the Peter Westbrook Foundation and took advanced training. Here, he received training under the leadership of famous Sydney player Aki Spencer Il. Meanwhile, his studies continued. Bachelor's degree from Duke University in 2003. In 2010, Ibtihaj became part of the American National Fencing Team. Due to hard work and 100% dedication to the game, she continued to move forward.

The year 2016 was the most important for his career. He was selected to participate in the Olympics. But then his dress became a matter of debate. Till date, no woman sportsman had worn fencing while wearing hijab. He was criticized by some. But Ibtihaz decided that she would not change her dress. She entered the field wearing a hijab at the Rio Olympics. She became the first female player in the world to do so. On this occasion, Ibtihaj said - I have not just come to participate in the competition, but my aim is to raise voice against those who do not behave well with women wearing hijab. You see my swordsmanship, not my dress. He won the first round. She became the first Muslim African-American woman to win a bronze medal in a fencing competition.

Recently, Barbie doll making company has launched Barbie doll wearing hijab. This doll is holding a sword in hand. This beautiful doll is inspired by Ibtihaj's life. She says - This moment is very special. Now people are understanding my point of view. Every person and community has the freedom to live on their own. We should respect this freedom. The US government has appointed him as sports goodwill ambassador. As part of a special campaign, she is involved in promoting education and sports among girls all over the world. Ibtihaj says- I want daughters in all countries to have freedom to play and study. Do not stop them from moving forward.``    

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