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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 11:09, December 13, 2006
Hijab no bar to track success
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In an age when Muslim women are coming under increasing scrutiny for wearing head scarves, Bahrain's Ruqaya al-Ghasara has proved that the hijab is no hindrance to sprinting around a race track.

Ghasara, who won bronze in the 100m on Saturday after a false start, made sure of gold in Monday's Asian Games 200m, producing a gutsy final 10 metres to clinch the race in 23.19sec.

The crowd at the Al-Khalifa Stadium roared with approval at Ghasara's final lunge for the line, her head rocking from side-to-side and shoulders rolling as she gave every ounce of her 65kg frame to win the race.

The devout Muslim, who immediately went down on her knees after crossing the line and touched her lips and then head to the track, wore her trademark white hijab - bearing the motif of a US sporting goods company - pinned tightly under her chin for the race.

Her legs and arms were also fully covered in the red and white of Bahrain with a singlet over her upper body.

"Thanks to God, I won," said the 24-year-old student, who, unlike many of the athletes on the Bahrain track team, actually hails from the Gulf country.

"I deserved the 200m gold medal. I was the strongest and the best," said Ghasara, adding that she had no problem with wearing a headscarf.

"I have a great desire to show that there are no problems with wearing these clothes," she said.

"I want to say I'm very thankful for being Muslim - it's a blessing. Wearing conservative clothes has encouraged me. Wearing a veil proves that Muslim women face no obstacles and encourages them to participate in sport.

"This is a glory to all Muslim women.

"I advise all Muslim girls to do sport, athletics. It's very good for your health and country."

Ghasara, coached by Algerian Nooruddin Tajin, said her Asian Games gold was the biggest win of her career.

She won a trio of silver medals in the 60m, 200m and 400m at the inaugural Asian Indoor Championships in Tehran in 2004, and a sprint double at the Pan-Arab Championships in Amman a year earlier.

"Hopefully I'll get something in next year's world championships in Osaka," she said.

"I have won gold in the Pan-Arab and West Asian Games but this is the biggest performance of my career, and hopefully the start on the road to more titles."

Coach Tajin described Ghasara as an "excellent student" with massive potential, although he said the hijab might have been behind her false start in the 100m.

Source: China Daily

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