Fencer Becomes First U.S. Olympian to Compete in Hijab

Ibtihaj Muhammad made history, but there will be no individual medal for the American in sabre fencing.

Muhammad on Monday became the first U.S. Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab, a veil or headscarf worn by some Muslim women to cover the hair and neck. She defeated Olena Kravatska of Ukraine 15-13 in her opening bout at Carioca Arena 3 in Rio de Janeiro before bowing out 15-12 to France’s Cecilia Berder in the round of 16, missing out on a spot in the quarterfinals.

The women’s sabre individual fencing event was to conclude Monday afternoon.

Muhammad could still leave Rio with a medal, as the women’s team sabre fencing competition is Saturday.

Muhammad, a 30-year-old Muslim from Maplewood, New Jersey, had clinched a spot on the U.S. team when she won bronze at the Fencing World Cup in Athens, Greece, earlier this year.

Muhammad was ranked as high as No. 7 in the world during the 2015-2016 season. She has won individual and team medals on the World Cup circuit, including team bronze at the Senior World Championships in 2015 and team gold in 2014. She also was a three-time NCAA All-American when she competed at Duke.

A torn ligament in her hand kept Muhammad from trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

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