At this weekend’s opening ceremony of the Youth Olympics, Jihan El Midany will lead the Egyptian delegation and mark a remarkable moment for her country.
El Midany is set to become the first Egyptian woman to serve as a flag bearer at an Olympic competition, the AP reported. The eighteen-year-old hopes that her high profile role will encourage young Muslim women to participate in sports on a more international level. She says, “I’m hoping I can be a good role model…I want to prove that the veil does not prevent girls from doing anything.”
The pentathlete may also become the first woman from Egypt to win a medal in the competition that is composed of swimming, shooting, fencing, and running.
El Midany is not the only Muslim woman making strides this season in the athletic realm however.
The Iranian team has decided to send its girls’ soccer team to participate in the competition, despite disagreements and controversy on the hijab-clad girls. After reaching a compromise, it was decided that the girls would wear caps instead of the full headscarf.
For the first time in history, Qatar is also sending young women to the event.
Vice President of the Egyptian Federation of Modern Pentathlon Sharif El-Erain expressed his hope that El Midany’s involvement would bring more money and attention to the participation of women in global sports. He also articulates a desire to encourage Egyptian women to join sports teams and compete.
Welcoming around 3,600 participants from around 204 countries throughout the world, the Youth Olympics is set to begin tomorrow and last until the 26th of August.