Ibtihaj, the first American hijabi Olympian, may not compete in Tokyo 2020
- 14 May 2019
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Ibtihaj Muhammad, who became the first American fencer to compete wearing a headscarf when she participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics, has suggested that she will not compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The trailblazer went on to win the team sabre bronze at the Rio Olympics, but in an interview with NBC Sports on Monday, she said, "I have unofficially hung up my sabre. I feel really content with my career and where I am right now in my life. You know, fencing is not a big part of it anymore, but it’s always been my intention to transcend sport in a way that reaches people not just in the fencing world but outside of it. I think I’ve been able to best do that, not only representing my sport but representing myself.”
“It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” she remarked, adding that every professional athlete she has spoken with has told her, "you’ll know when it’s time."
Muhammad cites two things as her coolest post-Olympic experiences: having a Barbie designed in her likeness and publishing her memoir, Proud, in 2018. In the book, Muhammad details unfriendly interactions with future Olympic teammates as she rose through the ranks in U.S. fencing.
In 2017, American toy manufacturer Mattel unveiled its first-ever hijab-wearing Barbie doll in honor of Ibtihaj. The doll, part of the toymaker’s “Sheroes” collection, is dressed in fencing gear as well as the hijab. Ibtihaj described the doll as a "childhood dream come true."
She was also named one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2016. Here’s an excerpt from the article about her:
“Today Ibtihaj is one of the best fencers in the world—and an observant Muslim woman. This summer, she will represent the U.S. at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. And when she competes for her country, representing all of us, she will be the first American Olympian to do so while wearing the hijab. Ibtihaj embraced what made her stand out, and she’s an Olympian because of it.”
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