Rio Olympics 2016: Meet the Egyptian beach volleyball player who didn't let a hijab stop her
When Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy made their Olympic debut in beach volleyball in a hijab and long sleeves, they caught the attention of the world.
Rio de Janeiro: When Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy made their Olympic debut in beach volleyball at the Copacabana on Sunday night, they caught the attention of the world. The Egyptians were fully clothed, wearing long sleeves and pants that covered their arms and legs. Elghobashy also wore a hijab that covered her head.
This was in stark contrast to their German rivals Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who sported the usual bikini attire. A photo of Elghobashy and Walkenhorst at the net went viral on social media, and has become a strong statement for the women athletes from the predominantly Muslim country.
The juxtaposition of the completely different cultures in the photograph are a great example of how sports is a great leveller and the Olympics is the biggest stage for that. The Egyptian players are not only just creating history for their nation, but are also challenging existing norms and inspiring millions of other women across the globe. No matter what religion or background you belong to, you can still succeed at the highest level in sports, is the message that they are sending out.
Egypt v Germany, Beach Volleyball.
This is why we do the Olympics. pic.twitter.com/DT19Zm5ube
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 8, 2016
— Ebru (@Epyoe) August 8, 2016
Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy making history for Egypt as the first women's Olympic beach volleyball pair pic.twitter.com/nisxdBTTZN
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) August 7, 2016
Doaa Elghobashy said she was proud to represent Egypt as part of the nation's first Olympic beach volleyball team.
As for the hijab that covered her head, as well as the long sleeves and pants, she never gave that a thought.
"I have worn the hijab for 10 years," she said after a 21-12, 21-15 loss to Germany. "It doesn't keep me away from the things I love to do, and beach volleyball is one of them."
Elghobashy and partner Nada Meawad qualified for the Summer Games through a regional competition designed to open the Olympic field to countries beyond the Brazilians, Americans and Europeans who dominate the international pro tour.
And when the Egyptians took the court wearing long pants and sleeves, they were the beneficiaries of uniform regulations that were relaxed by the international volleyball federation before the London Games so as not to exclude cultures that might be turned off by the standard bikinis and boardshorts.
"It was to open it up culturally," FIVB spokesman Richard Baker said on Sunday night as the Egyptians played in their opening match of the Rio Games. "The goal was to allow more people to play the sport of volleyball."
By one measure, it's worked. Baker said there were 169 different countries involved in the Continental Cup qualifying process for the 2016 Olympic, compared to 143 for London.
Egypt had never qualified for either the men's or women's beach volleyball tournament at the Olympics.
"I'm proud to be seen raising the Egyptian flag in a carnival with so many nations," Elghobashy said.
(With inputs from AP)
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