Looking back on the recent accomplishments by female athletes in the last decade or so, I am filled with joy and pride on behalf of the achievements that these women have gained. And yet, I am saddened as well.

The very fact that a Muslim female athlete is a martial arts champion or an Olympian medalist should be a cause for celebration, not a a headline made to be gawked at by well-meaning audiences who should know better. A Muslim female athlete, is a female athlete, is an athlete. These trailblazers have left their footsteps for future generations to walk in with pride as they wear the identity of Islam into the ring, the field, the battle for the world to see.  

I’ve realised that there are still so many other Muslim female athletes that deserve recognition, for their strength and determination as they chase their dreams and break stereotypes in their stride. And so, this post goes out to the unnamed women sweating it out in gyms, to the little girls that seek out their role models as they practice their pirouettes and Chagis.

You are strong because you have chosen to follow a dream that as recent as twenty years ago, seemed downright impossible.

You are beautiful in your athletic garb as you beam with happiness, as sweat drips down your temples and bruises litter your limbs, a proof of your passion.

You are inspirational because you are human, and you break down from the physical and mental agony, and yet you get to your feet time and again.

You are recognised by those who matter the most; the parents who send you to your training and practice sessions, the coaches who see your potential and the friends who cheer you on at the sidelines of every match.

So here’s to you amazing ladies, who knock out conventions at every turn.