Prior to the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics, any mention of Islam was met with fear of terrorism and security. As the games have now finished, Muslim athletes, have conducted themselves in a manner which has altered the stereotypes surrounding Muslims.
Examples of Muslim athletes who persevered amidst suspicions, racism, and Islamophobia are Mo Farah, Sarah Ahmed, and Ibtihaj Muhammad.
The long distance Somalian runner, Mo Farah won a gold medal in the 10,000-meter race. After colliding with another runner and falling, Farah got back up and went on to claim first place in the event.
Once Farah passed the finish line, he fell back down again, but this time, it was simply to pray, which he did before a stadium of thousands of spectators, which altered the stereotypes surrounding Muslims. Farah won a total of three Olympic gold medals. Farah says that he usually prays before a race and that his faith is an important part of his sporting achievements.
There is also the gendered stereotype which sees any women in a hijab as being a symbol of frailty and disempowerment. Egyptian weightlifter, Sara Ahmed is the exact opposite and is a motivated empowering, young woman.
As Ahmed lifted her 255 kg weight which won her the bronze medal, she was dressed all in black and donned a red head covering to represent the colors of Egypt. The win a great achievement for both her and her country, and she is the first female Olympic medalist in Egyptian history and also the first Arab women to win a medal in a weightlifting event. It was a proud moment for Ahmed as she bowed her head to receive her medal disrupting the stereotypes associated with Muslim women.
These athletes are some of the many Muslim athletes who excelled in the 2016 Rio Olympics.