A total of four Hijab wearing Olympians won medals in Rio they include taekwondo players Kimia Alizadeh of Iran and Hedaya Wahba of Egypt (far right) who shared a bronze in the Taekwondo 57kg category (Photo: Creative Commons)
Elham Asaad Buaras
Ninety seven Muslim Olympians won a total of 102 medals at the Rio Olympic Games this summer, believed to be the biggest haul by Muslim athletes of any games yet. Rio 2016 will also be remembered as games where many Muslim female athletes made history.
A total of 21 Muslim women won medals in Brazil, up three from the last games in London and 13 more than the Beijing games eight years ago.
Dalilah Muhammad broke a historic milestone and became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles.
Fellow African American Muslim Ibtihaj Muhammad made history before the games even started; her qualifications for the games gave her the mantle of the first US Olympian to wear a hijab during competition.
The fencer secured a bronze medal as a member of the USA Women’s Saber Team.Ibtihaj Muhammed was honoured with a motorcade and parade in her hometown Maplewood, New Jersey. Locals, dignitaries and elected officials lined the route to cheer on the hometown hero. Ibtihaj was not the only hijab wearing Olympian to win a medal, she is joined by Egyptian weightlifter Sara Ahmed and taekwondo players Kimia Alizadeh of Iran and Hedaya Wahba of Egypt.
Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal when she won a bronze medal in the 57-kilogram weight class; she shares her bronze with Hedaya Wahba.
Egyptian teenager Sara Ahmed became the first Arab woman to win an Olympic weightlifting medal. She is also Egypt’s first female medalist in the country’s 104-year-history at the Games and the country’s first weightlifting medallist since 1948.
Ahmed won bronzeAhmed lifted 255 kg in the 69kg competition to finish third behind China’s Xiang Yanmei and Kazakhstan’s Zhazira Zhapparkul, who claimed silver.
Tunisia enjoyed double success, with Ines Boubakri and Marwa Amri becoming the first-ever African women to pick up medals in fencing and wrestling (both bronze).
For the second consecutive Olympics Aliya Mustafina was crowned Russia’s most decorated athlete of the games, as well as the most decorated female Muslim medallist.
The 21-year-old secured a gold (uneven bars), silver (team) and bronze (individual all-round).
Fellow Russian Yelena Isinbayeva was the most notable absentee of the games, the two-time Olympic Pole vault champion and current world record holder was barred from Rio because of Russia’s blanket track and field ban over allegations of state-backed doping.
Isinbayeva, who announced her retirement after the ban, said the 2016 gold medallist would have an asterisk against her name.“Whoever wins tonight will do so without Isinbayeva, it won’t be a fully-fledged,” she said.“The champion will feel it’s not entirely gold because she didn’t beat Isinbayeva.”
Three of the eight British Muslim athletes who competed in Rio won medals and even more impressively all three defended or improved on their 2012 performances.
Mohamed Farah cemented his place as Britain’s most successful Olympic track and field athlete of all timeby retaining both of his 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic titles in Rio. He is only the second man in history to do so.
“It’s every athlete’s dream but I can’t believe it,” Farah said afterwards. “Being away from my family for so long, I knew I had to do something for them. I just want to go home now and see my beautiful kids and hang my medals around their necks.”
Farah is not the only British Muslim athlete to defend his title. Rower Mohamed Sbihi continued Britain’s stranglehold of the Olympic men’s four crown, following in the footsteps of Sir Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent.
The burden of history may weigh heavy but Sbihi, Alex Gregory, George Nash and Constantine Louloudis brought men’s four gold home from a fifth successive Olympics holding off Australia to triumph by 1.83 seconds at the Lagoa.
Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammad lost out on a gold medal in the final second of a dramatic men’s 80kg taekwondo final. The Londoner led opponent Cheick Sallah Cisse before a stunning head kick with the very last move of the contest gave the Ivory Coast man an 8-6 victory, and with it his country’s first Olympic gold medal.The 25-year-old was consoled by a silver medal. He had won a bronze at London 2012.