Ibtihaj Muhammad

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Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad podium 2013 Fencing WCH SFS-EQ t215413.jpg
Personal information
Nationality American
Born December 4, 1985 (1985-12-04) (age 29)
Maplewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater Duke University
Occupation Sabre fencer

Ibtihaj Muhammad (born December 4, 1985) is an American sabre fencer and member of the United States fencing team. She is best known for being the first Muslim woman to compete for the United States in international competition in her sport.[1]

Early life[edit]

Muhammad was born in Maplewood, New Jersey, of African American descent.[2] She was raised in a family with four siblings. As a Muslim female growing up in an athletic household, Muhammad always wore long clothing under her athletic uniforms to conform with Islam's emphasis on modesty.[3]

Muhammad discovered fencing while driving past the local high school when her mother saw fencers who were covered from head to toe. Muhammad attended Columbia High School, a public high school in Maplewood, where she joined the fencing team at age 13.[3]

Fencing career[edit]

After fencing épée for a few years, Muhammad decided to switch to sabre at the request of her high school coach Frank Mustilli.[3] She quickly developed in the weapon helping to lead her team to two state championships.

In late 2002, Muhammad joined the prestigious Peter Westbrook Foundation, a program which utilizes the sport of fencing as a vehicle to develop life skills in young people from underserved communities.[4] She was invited to train under the Westbrook Foundation's Elite Athlete Program in New York City. She is coached by former PWF student and 2000 Sydney Olympian Ahki Spencer-El.

Muhammad was heavily recruited by Duke University, where she received an academic scholarship. She was a 3-time All-American and 2005 Junior Olympic Champion.[5] Muhammad graduated from Duke University in 2007 with an International Relations and African Studies double major.[6]

As member of the United States national team, Muhammad captured the gold medal in the women's saber team event at the 2014 World Fencing Championships held in Kazan, Russia, the bronze medal in the women's sabre team event at the 2011 World Fencing Championships held in Catania, Italy,[7] and the bronze medal at the 2012 World Fencing Championships held in Kyiv, Ukraine. She also competed in the 2010 World Fencing Championships in Paris, France

Muhammad attended the 2011 XVI Pan American Games where she won the gold medal in the women's sabre team event.[8] She is also a 3-time United States National Champion.