Peter Westbrook Foundation Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad Qualifies for Olympics, Will Become First US Athlete to Compete in a Hijab

Feb 08, 2016, 19:30 ET from Peter Westbrook Foundation

NEW YORK, Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Peter Westbrook Foundation (PWF) athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad will make history this summer in Rio de Janeiro by becoming the first U.S. athlete to compete in the Olympics in a hijab, the traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women.  Muhammad first made history as the first Muslim woman in a hijab to represent the United States in the sport of fencing. 

Athletes in hijabs have been a point of much controversy with many citing safety concerns with the traditional headscarves.  Fencing – with a uniform that covers the head, arms and legs – faces few of these challenges and is exactly what drew Muhammad to the Peter Westbrook Foundation as a young girl from New Jersey.  It was there that she realized her full potential not only an athlete, but a symbol as well. 

"I saw there was a lack of minorities in the sport," said Muhammad. "I recognized that I had a skill set, so I started to pursue fencing full time. I felt that it was something the [Team USA] squad needed."

Muhammad – a winner of the gold medal at the 2014 World Team Championships – has been dominant this year, earning bronze medals at two of the three world cups held this season.  Although the official US fencing team won't be announced until April, after earning the bronze at the Athens world cup last weekend, she mathematically secured her spot for the 2016 Olympic team.

"I am so proud of the development and growth of Ibtihaj Muhammad," said founder Peter Westbrook.  "Her achievements on the fencing strip are only surpassed by her ongoing effort to break barriers in her sport.  I know that she will make us all proud in Rio."

Ben Bratton


SOURCE Peter Westbrook Foundation