The 2016 Rio Olympic Games was the birthplace for many firsts.
Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an Olympic gold in an individual swimming event for the 100-meter freestyle. Monica Puig became the first woman representing Puerto Rico to win an Olympic gold in singles tennis. Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin made history for taking over the entire podium for the women’s 100-meter hurdle.
But when it came to Muslim women in the coverage of the 2016 Olympics, a great deal of it was focused on how female athletes who wore the hijab either are a symbol of oppression or finished dead last in their events. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Contrary to public opinion, Muslim women competing in athletics isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, hijab-wearing Muslim women have been competitive athletes for many decades. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, numerous great achievements were made by Muslim women including those who wear the hijab. Simply put: Muslim women don’t need pity. They are, indeed, champions.
Here are 14 badass Muslim women, as reported by BuzzFeed, that won Olympic medals this year:
Dalilah Muhammad, USA, track and field
Muhammad became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold in the 400-meter hurdles.
Majlinda Kelmendi, Kosovo, judo
After turning down a fortune to represent another country, perseverance and hard work paid off for Kelmendi. The 25-year-old won an Olympic gold in judo in the 52-kilogram weight class. This is the first time an athlete has ever won an Olympic medal for Kosovo.
Aliya Mustafina, Russia, gymnastics
The 21-year-old won three medals: A gold in women’s uneven bars, silver in team all-around and bronze in the individual all-around event. According to BuzzFeed, Mustafina is of Muslim descent through her father, who also won an Olympic medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
Mariya Stadnik, Azerbaijan, wrestling
Stadnik won a silver medal for the 48-kilogram weight class for women’s freestyle wrestling.
Zhazira Zhapparkul, Kazakhstan, weightlifting
The 22-year-old won a silver medal in in the 69-kilogram division in women’s weightlifting.
Sri Wahyuni Agustiani, Indonesia, weightlifting
Agustiani won the silver medal in the 48-kilogram weight class in women’s weightlifting.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, USA, fencing
Ibtihaj Muhammad, now a bronze-medalist sabre fencer, became the first American woman to compete in the hijab at the Olympic Games.
Sara Ahmed, Egypt, weightlifting
Sara Ahmed became the first Egyptian woman to stand on an Olympic podium when she won a bronze medal in her 69-kilogram weight class.
Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin, Iran, taekwondo
Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal when she placed with a bronze medal in the 57-kilogram weight class.
Patimat Abakarova, Azerbaijan, taekwondo
Abakarova won the bronze medal in the 49-kilogram weight class in taekwondo.
Ines Boubakri, Tunisia, fencing
Boubakri became the first woman of an African nation to win an Olympic medal in women’s sabre fencing. She dedicated her bronze medal to all Tunisian Arab women.
Marwa Amri, Tunisia, wrestling
Amri became the first Tunisian woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling when she won the bronze medal for the 58-kilogram weight class.
Nur Tatar, Turkey, taekwondo