So after all that summer fuss in London, England, who was your favourite athlete? Maybe you don’t have one but perhaps you’ve one or more athletes who stand out in your mind.?
My enthusiasm for sport, especially Olympic events has me watching most of the really exciting TV surrounding the biennial extravaganzas and I get fairly pumped for the running. So there I was, on a fine summer’s morning on August 4th, watching the coverage of near day old groundbreaking, history making sport events which for me and I’m sure millions of other viewers were game changing and singularly the most important sport events to happen in modern times.
On the 23rd of August Somalian runner Zamzam Mohamed Farah ran in the women’s 400m and finished nearly half a minute after the winner. In a Muslim-suitable track outfit designed to cover most of her body, she took on some of the best in the world – and lost. Zamzam, 21, was one of only two Somalian athletes at the games, the only female – and she was her country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. Winner Francena McCorory (US) finished first in 50.78 seconds. Zamzam came last with a time of 1min 20.48sec, with the next-to-last competitor a good 25 seconds ahead of her.
Later that day Afghanistan’s Tahmina Kohistani participated in heat four of the women’s 100 metres. Her time was nearly four seconds slower than Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record of 10.49 seconds. The 23-year-old raced in a headscarf in the national colours of red, green and black long-sleeved top and bottoms.
So, why were these two runners so remarkable? I’m being rhetorical as I imagine the question will be raised in some minds.
Simply stated, these two women, and a few other Muslim women like them who participated in these particular games come from the most divided and repressive societies on the planet, whose populations made it all but impossible for these brave young competitors to consider these life threatening undertakings and the prejudice they experienced at home was repeated by many along their lengthy roads as they travelled to these games. But while the roar of supportive noise Kohistani experienced in the Olympic Stadium demonstrated widespread western acceptance it contrasted deeply to the abuse she received from men while training in Kabul. Her fight and those of her Muslim sisters in sport is far from over. They need our support. They need voices from the enlightened areas of this planet to scream open cracks in the foundations of religious and cultural bias which so starkly divide the genders and repress female human beings.
We, as human kind have had to fight for enlightenment through all of history in order that the human race elevate itself from the muck so that one day we may collectively attain peace and perfection of mind. That is our highest aspiration. We have come a long way. Even after world slave trades, civil wars and race riots however some still espouse and support inequality amongst races. After the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, the Jewish genocide and 911 terrorist activities still there are those who claim a balanced state of mind and forward the idea of some religions having validity but not others. And how many put forward the ideas of inequality amongst the genders, that most ubiquitous and ancient prejudicial failing of human kind? Sadly, too many.
100 metres, 400 metres, run girls, yours are the longest tracks. Now however we must make this race a relay. Others, we, the enlightened will carry the torch from here in, thanks for blazing such a trail.