Robina Jalali, also known as Robina Muqimyar (born July 3, 1986) is a former Olympic athlete who represented Afghanistan at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and in 30 international events competing in the 100 meter sprint. She competed athletically under the name Muqimyar and ran for a seat in the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, using her family name of Jalali.
She attracted international attention for running while wearing the hijab, the traditional Muslim woman's headcovering. and because she was one of the first two women ever to represent Afghanistan at the Olympic Games, by competing along with judoka Friba Razayee at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Jalali was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and is one of nine children (seven girls and two boys). Her father was a businessman in the computer industry who now runs a non-profit company that teaches Afghan women how to sew. Jalali was home schooled during the era of the Taliban when schooling for girls was forbidden. She attended school after 2001. Describing life under the Taliban, she has said: "There was nothing for us girls to do under the Taliban. You couldn't go to school. You couldn't play, you couldn't do anything. You were just at home all the time."
Muqimyar took part in the women's 100m sprint. She finished seventh out of eight in her heat, with a time of 14.14 seconds, 0.15 seconds ahead of Somalia's Fartun Abukar Omar. The race was won by Jamaica's Veronica Campbell, with a time of 11.17 seconds. Muqimyar was 17 at the time of the event. She ran in "a T-shirt and long green track pants" rather than more aerodynamic competition clothing.
She was not initially due to compete in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but joined Afghanistan's delegation after female sprinter Mehboba Ahdyar left her training camp in June to seek political asylum in Norway. At the 2008 Summer Olympics she took part at the 100 metres sprint. In her first round heat she placed eighth and last in a time of 14.80 which was not enough to advance to the second round.
The Guardian described her as a true embodiment of the Olympic spirit:
- "The Olympic rings are the most recognised symbol on the planet and every corporate player wants to turn the Games into an advert for soft drinks and credit cards. Yet despite the drug scandals and excess there are still athletes who embody the Olympic spirit. So meet the Afghan sprinter who had to hide from the Taliban, the Brazilian gymnast from the ghetto and the Ecuadorean walker who made a 459km pilgrimage after his first gold medal. They may not all win, but they all deserve our admiration."
She ran for office as an independent, on a platform of equal rights for women and youth, in the September 2010 parliamentary election. She said she would promote school athletics in Afghanistan if she won a seat, but was not elected.
- David Nakamura (September 11, 2010). "One of Afghanistan's rare female Olympians now running for parliament". The Washington Post.
- Athlete biography: Robina Muqimyar, beijing2008.cn, ret: Aug 27, 2008
- "True Olympians", The Guardian, August 1, 2004
- "Afghan women's Olympic dream", BBC, June 22, 2004
- "The first Afghan women to participate in Track & Field: Robina Muqimyar 7th out of 8 in 100 meter sprint", National Olympic Committee of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
- "Afghan women making Olympic history", USA Today, August 17, 2004
- "Afghan Woman Runs Toward Olympics Despite Jeers, Potential Danger", Associated Press, March 16, 2008
- "Afghan Athletes Train for Beijing Olympic ", Afghan embassy to the United States, April 29, 2008
- "Olympics-Against all odds, Afghans try their luck in Beijing", Reuters, August 9, 2008
- Fears ease after missing Afghan athlete found, Times of London, July 10
- "Topic Running for Women's Rights in Afghanistan". The NATO Channel. Retrieved September 11, 2010.
- "Jalali, Robina Muqimyar Mrs". Who's Who in Afghanistan?. Retrieved December 6, 2011.