As the 2016 Games come to an end, there is no doubt that women absolutely slayed the summer Olympics this year, especially our fellow Muslimas. From wielding fencing foils to racing for the gold, Muslim women showcased just how fierce they are by winning numerous medals for their respective countries.
Now, Iranian Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin and Hedaya Wahba of Egypt — who both competed in taekwondo — have contributed their own wins and added to the impressive list of Muslim women athletes.
For Alizadeh, winning the bronze in taekwondo and her first Olympic medal is a historic moment, as she is the only Iranian woman to have done so. In a country with strict religious laws that don’t allow women to enter stadiums for major sporting events, Alizadeh’s win is sure to be a source of pride for Iranian women.
But seeing Alizadeh accept her medal on the podium is a powerful statement to young women everywhere, not just in Iran; it shows them that the world is a stage and that it is theirs for the taking.
“I hope that this medal can open the way for other girls (from Iran) to get to the Olympics and to get medals,” the 18-year-old said in an interview on the Rio Olympics’ official website.
She also said that she aims to receive a gold medal in the next Olympics, and — given that she is already gracing the world with performances that will quite literally go down in history — her dream to win the gold in the future is an achievement she will no doubt easily accomplish.
Hedaya Wahba is no stranger to the Olympics. The 23-year-old also competed in the 2012 Games in London and was ranked third worldwide in taekwondo as of December 2015. Her victory against Belgium’s Raheleh Asemani in the women’s 57kg event last Thursday gained her a bronze and Egypt’s third medal this year. Malak is only the second Egyptian woman to win an Olympic medal, the first being Sara Ahmed, who competed in weightlifting.
Both Wahba and Alizadeh are the first women from Egypt and Iran, respectively, to win medals in taekwondo, which is no small feat. At a time when some of us might be questioning whether the future is safe for Muslim women who wear hijab in the West, we need only to look at the achievements of these fierce ladies who — through their collective wins — have made 2016 a whole lot brighter. They personify the idea that you can get anywhere and achieve everything in spite of the challenges you face.
Standing with their heads held high, medals worn proudly over their scarves, these young women remind us why we should hold onto our faith even when it seems as though everyone is pointing the finger our way.
Their stance, and their smiles, say: We are proud of who we are, and you should be, too. How’s that for gold?