Ibtihaj Muhammad qualified for the Rio Olympics over the weekend after taking home the bronze medal at the Women’s Saber World Cup in Athens, Greece. And while that’s cool on its own, it’s even more remarkable as she will become the first American Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab.
The 30-year-old from New Jersey has been fencing since she was 13, and first began in the sport because she wouldn’t have to alter the uniform to adhere to the required dress for a Muslim woman.
After competing for Duke, Muhammad turned professional and has since amassed a slew of titles, both as part of the U.S. team and individually. In an interview with Buzzfeed, she said the lack of diversity in the sport has helped fuel her over the years.
“Historically, it’s always been a white sport reserved for people with money,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a good representation of the U.S., or of society as a whole.”
While the team for Rio won’t officially be announced until April, Muhammad has earned enough points through qualifying to guarantee her spot. In the meantime, expect her to continue dominating her sport and growing her clothing line. Yes, that’s right. Along with her siblings, she helps run Louella, a conservative — yet fashionable — clothing line aimed in part at Muslim women.
Clearly, she’s a trailblazer in multiple avenues. Keep up the awesome work, Ibtihaj!