This blog is about fairness; about looking at objects from multiple perspectives. Stable transformation comes only slowly; and only if the environment is free of sporadic jitters of passion and anger that destabilize growth. I strongly believe that the path to peace crosses through the battle with self.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Iran's Martial Artist Girl goes to Beijing
Sara Khoshjamal trains her way to the Beijing Olympics (Lara Setrakian/ABC News)
Since making the Olympic qualifiers in Vietnam and beating the world's top-ranking woman in her weight class last month, Khoshjamal has become a national celebrity. Keeping with what's required in her conservative Muslim society, Khoshjamal competes wearing a headscarf. In a country with limited options for competitive female athletes, she represents irrepressible talent and ambition.
"Sara is becoming a role model for young girls in Iran," Kiarash Bahri of Iran's Tae Kwon do Federation told ABC News, standing near a larger-than-life poster bearing Khoshjamal's image.
Khoshjamal is the first Iranian woman to earn a spot at the Olympics.
In the past three years other women have competed from the Islamic Republic in Olympic pistol-shooting, but Bahri said they were wild card entries. None of the women finished in the top three, making Khoshjamal Iran's best hope for its first female medalist.
"I'm happy, but I am nervous. It is a very big duty. All of my country is watching me," she said.
"I would love to take a gold medal in Beijing. I know it is important for other girls in Iran, but it's important for me too. I practice very hard, and I hope we can do it. It will make the people of my country happy."
Tae kwon do is increasingly popular among women in Iran, with roughly 120,000 women practicing the martial art. It is one of few sports in which Iran's Islamic leadership allows women to compete on an international level.
They are barred from taking part in most Olympic sports, though they can compete internationally in rowing, riflery and chess.
Though intensely physical, tae kwon do is viewed as being compatible with conservative Muslim dictates.