How Team USA's First Hijab-Wearing Athlete Overcame Hurdles As A Black Muslim Woman

A fighter through and through.

How Team USA's First Hijab-Wearing Athlete Overcame Hurdles As A Black Muslim Woman

Having your success be a historical milestone is no easy feat. For Ibtihaj Muhammad, Team USA's first hijab-wearing athlete, there were many more obstacles to overcome as a Black Muslim woman. 

But to hear Muhammad tell it, she's always been a fighter. 

"I've always been very unapologetic about who I am," she said in a video for MINI USA about defying labels. "My beliefs, my religion, my faith — they're a part of who I am and I've never felt the need to explain it to anyone."

Representing the USA in fencing in Rio de Janeiro this year, Muhammad said that she has had to push back against stereotypes her whole life. She said:

I remember being ostracized and being told there were things I couldn't do because I was Black, or things I couldn't do because I was Muslim, or there were limitations because I was a girl. Throughout my entire life I've tried to combat these stereotypes, it's always just been a part of who I am to prove others wrong and to show them that this is how strong women can be. These are the things that Muslim women can do. 

She also noted what pushed her to want to become America's first hijab-wearing Olympic athlete is in part her community. 

"When I realized that there had never been a Muslim woman who wore the hijab to represent Team USA, I wanted it not just for myself, but for my community," she said. "I wanted to see Team USA be more diverse and be more reflective of American society and how I viewed it."

The Olympic's women's individual fencing rounds begin August 6, at 8 a.m. The finals take place at 4:45 p.m. the same day.



Watch the video here: