Athlete Mariam Farid says religion and fashion can go together
Leading Qatari woman athlete Mariam Farid, who competes wearing a hijab, says she would never compromise on her identity but would not mind blending a bit of fashion with religion. At a young age of 15, Mariam, who is now 20, had played a significant role in Qatar winning the bid in November 2014 to host its first ever IAAF World Championships. Here's more.
Mariam now preparing for the Doha IAAF World Championship 2019
In 2014, as Qatar's ambassador, Mariam, in her emotional speech, emphasized on breaking barriers and changing the Western world's perception of the Arab world. Her speech convinced the panel and the bid went in favor of Qatar. Four years later, as Doha prepares to host the Championships next year, Mariam herself is training hard to produce a strong show in the 400m hurdles event.
Hijab isn't going to make me less fast: Mariam
Mariam's known to wear a hijab while competing. She says, "It isn't going to make me less fast. Even if it does, it's what makes me comfortable, this is my identity." To prove her point, she cites the example of Australian athlete Cathie Freeman, who became the women's 400m Olympic champion in 2000 while running with full body-kit, her arms and head covered.
Mariam wants to modify the hijab, start her own business
However, Mariam would like to modify the hijab. Maybe 10 years later, when she's done with athletics career, she wants to manufacture hijabs that would complement the beauty of a woman. "I want to start my own business, which helps in empowering younger generation of women. None of the brands are appreciating women wearing hijab in sports. It'll be a good idea," she said.
Nike, Adidas should design something beautiful for us: Mariam
Speaking about brands, Mariam said, "Recently Nike gave me a hijab. Whatever it is, but it looks bad (laughs). We need brands like Nike and Adidas to do (design) something beautiful for us." She expresses that the hijab she desires should be "beautiful." "I shouldn't look awkward. It should be fashionable. Of course, religion and fashion can go together," emphasizes the young sprinter.
Mariam doesn't feel pressure to perform before fans
Coming from a family of seven, which has five doctors, Mariam says she doesn't feel pressure to perform before the home fans. "A champion isn't made in a day or year. It takes years. I started three-four years back. I don't feel pressure," she said.
I am my own role model, says the super-confident Mariam
Mariam is without a major medal in her kitty but says that she's her own role model and it is important to be confident because if you are not, people around you will try to break you. "Not everyone wants to see you happy. Majority would want to see you fail. I feel I can do whatever I want to do," she says.
But, Mariam agrees she has flaws too
So what makes her so confident at such a young age? "That's my character. I don't accept people telling me that I can't do this or that," Mariam says. Coached by Tunisian Awatef Hamrouni, Mariam admits she has flaws too. "I'm not patient enough. This part is killing me. Coach says it'll take lot of time (to do well in big championships)," she says.
West's perception about Arab world is wrong, says Mariam
Mariam, the communications student at Northwestern University in Doha insists the Arab world isn't how the West looks at it. "Western world have this stereotype that we (women) sit at home, we are not allowed to move outside. Yes, it was not in our culture, 15-20 years ago, but now we have strong teams," she said, adding that they do train with boys too.