Magazine

A sporting chance

Athletics and the breakdown of female-Arab stereotypes.

Yara Dowani
Photo by: COURTESY YARA DOWANI
In the 2012 London Olympics, one of the runners in the women’s 800 meters stood out from the rest in her heat. Wrapped in a white head scarf and wearing long black leggings, Woroud Sawalha encompassed the international aspect of the games, a conservatively dressed Palestinian Muslim woman among Canadians, Russians and Czechs.

Various news outlets portrayed her as the “pride” of Palestine. But she was more pragmatic in an interview with CNN, explaining. “This will reflect on my female friends and on sports in Palestine... maybe the view of girls will change from practicing sports in a more professional way and more freely in front of people.”



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