Breaking Stereotypes: Muslim Women From Around the World Participating in Rio Olympics’16

Breaking Stereotypes – a term that has both, praises and criticism. Sometimes, however, some stereotypes are exceptional – they cannot be criticized at any cost. One of these is how the world is praising muslim women participating in Rio olympics. And each woman has her own story to tell.

Four years ago, the London Olympics featured Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s female athletes’ participation. However, not a lot of people noticed, but there were a total of 16 Muslim countries that sent 158 total women to the London Olympics.

Habiba Ghribi from Tunisia became her country’s first ever female silver-medalist by winning 3, 000-meter steeplechase. Her quest doesn’t stop here; she will participate in this year’s Olympics as well.

This year is no less than an achievement for Muslim females around the world – once discouraged and forbidden, a large number of Muslim women are already making the news with just their participation in the sport event. Including Habiba, there are a number of Muslim women around the world featuring in Rio Olympics:


United Arab Emirates


24-year-old Aisha Al Balushi will be replacing the 26-year-old UAE’s first ever female weightlifter Amna Al Haddad in this year’s Olympics. Proving to be the perfect fit, Aisha scored higher scores than Al Haddad in Asia’s Championships conducted in 2016.


Track and Field

Saudi Arabia

History was made four years ago when Attar made her way to Saudi Arabia’s first female delegation participating in Olympics. Despite finishing last in 800-meter race, Attar was honored with a standing ovation and a lot of support from her team.

19 years old then and now 23 years old, Attar is set to participate in this year’s 800-meter race after showing much improvement in her personal best time.


Track and Field


Ghribi made news when she bagged silver medal in 2012’s 3,000-meter steeplechase and World Championship in 2011. However, she was later awarded Gold Medals for both events as the first place winner from Russia, Yulia Zaripova was disqualified due to doping.

Ghribi aims to win gold medal this year by beating all the contestants on track.



United States

She is making news everywhere – 30-year-old Ibtihaj is set to make history when she will play her first ever sabre fencing match in Rio. She is set to become the first ever U.S. fencer and athlete to compete in an Olympic sport while covering her head with a hijab.


Track and Field


Married to Peyman Rajabi, an Iranian sprinter, Leila converted herself to Islam, the Belarus native became an Iranian citizen and started focusing on becoming the best shot putter (female) in Iran. She has the national record of shot put at 59 feet, 7 inches (18.18 meters). She has bagged gold medals at Asian Indoor Championships, Asian Indoor Games and silver medals at the Asian Championships and Asian Outdoor Games.




After converting to Islam when moving to Turkey from Russia, Elif started preparing herself as a wrestler. in 2012, she was the first ever female wrestler to represent in Turkey on this platform. While she might have failed to bag any medal in 2012 Olympics, she has won a number of European and Mediterranean events.

7. Sania Mirza

Double Tennis


Representing India in a number of  tournaments through single, women and mixed doubles, Mirza is set to play in this year’s mixed doubles. Mirza hopes she will finally be able to get an Olympics medal in this year’s event.

8. Yusra Mardini



Mardini has been sharing her brave story to the entire world – she fled from the war-torn Syria and now resides in Germany. 18 years of age, she will now represent herself in the first ever Team Refugees in Rio Olympics swimming competitions.


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