Sunday, March 16, 2008

Iran's Martial Artist Girl goes to Beijing

iran's olympic hopeful
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.

(good people of earth, I am dyslexic! :) )


Brother Tim said...

Good for her!!!! I wish her all the best. As for the headscarf.......I like it!

Naj said...

Brother Tim, I HATE that headscarf!

It is demeaning to be forced to cover ones head! If it was a woman's choice I could respect it (I would still dislike it and be disgusted silently though). But to make her stand out ... with a scarf! pff

My niece is turning 9 in a month or so! I heard they had a ceremony in their school to CELEBRATE their reaching the age that they have to pray and start covering their hair!
To think little girls have to cover their hair makes me SICK!

an average patriot said...

My thoughts will be with her. I will be following Sara and hoping for the best. I wish fo her own sake that she would take off the head scarf just for the competition for comfort and equal footing.

Naj said...


She is representing the IRI, and she is not allowed to take her scarf off. It would be against the laws of Iran, and as a state-athlete she should not/cannot do that.

RickB said...

You know with 120,000 women doing Tae Kwon Do I think the era of having to wear the headscarf could be set for a challenge...
She's like a Persian Buffy!

Join the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

Naj said...

Rick, trust me, a lot of those women WANT to wear the damn thing!

Off to blogswarm now!

niloo said...

omg!!! she is a hero & guess what her sister is my teacher which means I’m getting the latest news y'all