This summer’s 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will feature the first American Olympian to compete while wearing a Muslim hijab.
The athlete making this historical progress is Ibtihaj Muhammad, a women’s saber fencer.
“I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender,” Muhammad said, according to the Team USA website. “I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.”
Muhammad, 30, was born in Maplewood, N.J. and graduated from Duke University in 2007 with a double major in international relations and African studies. (RELATED: Duke University Scuttles Plan To Broadcast Islamic Prayer Calls Across Campus)
She has won bronze medals at two world fencing events this year. After she earned the second one over the weekend, she secured her place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
Muhammad, who sustained a serious hand injury in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, currently stands second among on the female USA fencing national team. Mariel Zagunis, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is in first place.
When she isn’t fencing, Muhammad runs Louella, a “fresh and vibrant” clothing company which sells “affordable, modest” women’s clothing.
In 2011, Muhammad received an Inspiration Award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an organization listed by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme that provided funding to the terror group Hamas.