The third day of the Rio Games featured a couple of notable firsts — Rafaela Silva captured host Brazil’s first gold medal of the Rio Games and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the only American ever to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab (a veil that covers the head and chest).In the women’s sabre tournament, Ibtihaj Muhammad, sporting a hijab, was a winner in her opening bout before bowing out. A New Jersey native, who started fencing in part because the uniform allowed her to adhere to the tenets of her faith, Ibtihaj Muhammad also competes in the team event later this week.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, ranked eighth in the world in sabre, beat Ukranian Olena Kravatska 15-13 in her first match before falling to France’s Cecilia Berder 15-12 in the round of 16.
“I feel like it’s a blessing to be able to represent so many people who don’t have voices, who don’t speak up,” Muhammad said. “It’s just been a really remarkable experience.”
She became an instant star when she qualified for her first Olympics earlier this year. And she embraced the spotlight, which helped make her an unlikely face of the U.S. team given how little publicity fencing typically receives.