Hijab No Obstacle to Asian Gold

A young Bahraini sprinter made history for Muslim women athletes after winning a well-deserved gold medal at the Asian Games proving that hijab was no obstacle to excellence.

Hijab No Obstacle to Asian Gold

"This is a glory to all Muslim women," said 24-year-old Ruqaya Al-Ghasara who won the gold medal in the 200-meters in 23.19 seconds, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

The devout Muslim immediately went down on her knees after crossing the line and touched her lips and then head to the track.

"I'm very thankful for being a Muslim; it's a blessing."

Al-Ghasara, a sports management student who gave every ounce of her 65kg frame to win the race, said the big win was a prize for her hard work.

"I deserved the 200m gold medal. I was the strongest and the best."

Ghasara, who won bronze in the 100m on Saturday after a false start which she blamed on an ear infection, believes this is just the beginning of her sports career.

"I have won gold in the Pan-Arab and West Asian Games but this is the biggest performance of my career, and hopefully the start on the road to more titles."

Last December, Al-Ghasara stole thunder when she won her 100 meters heat to become the first woman to win a race at the West Asian Games (WAG), which had previously been men only.

She won a trio of silver medals in the 60m, 200m and 400m at the inaugural Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran in 2004, and a sprint double at the Pan-Arab Championships in Amman a year earlier.

"Hopefully I'll get something in next year's world championships in Osaka."


The devout Muslim athlete wore her trademark white hijab - bearing the motif of a US sporting goods company - pinned tightly under her chin for the race.

Her legs and arms were also fully covered in the red and white of Bahrain with a singlet over her upper body.

After winning, Ghasara insisted there was no problem in running with her hijab, even in the exhausting 200-meters race which calls for a tremendous burst of energy and mental resolve.

"I have a great desire to show that there are no problems with wearing these clothes," the champion said.

"Wearing conservative clothes has encouraged me. It's not an obstacle … quite the opposite."

This is the first time in the history of the Asian games that a Muslim woman kitted in a full tracksuit and a hijab has won a track gold medal and that too in the draining 200m sprint.

Ghasara hopes her win would inspire other Muslim women to join in competitive sports.

"I advise all Muslim girls to do sport, athletics. It's very good for your health and country.

"Wearing a veil proves that Muslim women face no obstacles and encourages them to participate in sport."

In the 15th Asian Games, the first to be held in an Arab state, other Muslim women have competed in religion-conforming cloths.

During the few recent years, a debate has been raging in the West about Muslim women's right to wear hijab in public.

Describing it as a religious symbol and not an obligatory dress code as Muslims believe, France has triggered the controversy in 2004 by adopting a bill banning the hair veil in state schools.

Shortly afterwards, other European countries, chiefly Germany, followed the French lead.

International figures stood behind the Muslim right, including London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who described the ban as an "anti-Muslim measure."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16