Rio 2016: The first American Olympian to compete in a hijab wins a bronze medal

Ibtihaj Muhammad won the medal in the team sabre fencing event 

Monday 15 August 2016 17:48
First US olympian to compete in hijab wins bronze

The first US athlete to compete at the Olympics wearing a hijab has won a bronze medal.

Ibtihaj Muhammad was part of the team who came third in the women’s team sabre fencing.

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Muhammad competed with Dagmara Wozniak, Mariel Zagunis and Monica Aksamit to defeat the Italian team 45-30.

The team hadn’t medalled all year and Muhammad described them as “underdogs”.

“I’m hoping that through my experience at the Olympic Games, through winning a medal, that I combat and break those stereotypes and misconceptions that people have about Muslims, African-Americans and even about women,” Ms Muhammad is reported to have said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

She added that winning the bronze medal was the best experience of her life.

The US team painted a colourful picture on the podium with pink, blonde and purple hair, plus Muhammad's headscarf.

From left, Dagmara Wozniak, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Monica Aksamit and Mariel Zagunis of the United States

"This is sport. It doesn't matter what hair colour you have, what religion you are. The point is to go out there and be the best athlete you can be," said Polish-born Dagmara Wozniak of Team USA. "We're the best explanation of what America is: a mix of so many different cultures and races and everything all together."

Muhammad joined the national fencing team in 2010 and was a three-time All-American and 2005 Junior Olympic Champion at Duke University.

She has been outspoken in the past about the discrimination she has faced and was seen as a potential candidate to carry the American flag at the opening ceremony, which was eventually carried by Michael Phelps.

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