Hometown Hero: New Jersey Celebrates Historic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad
During her Olympic debut, world-class fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history twice in one week.
Not only did the 30-year-old New Jersey native become the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympics in a hijab, but on Saturday, with the last touch of her last team bout, she became the first American woman to win a medal at the Olympics while wearing the religious head scarf.
"I feel like this moment is bigger than I am. I've worked so hard the last six years — I've been on the United States national team for six years — and it's been such a hard journey," Muhammad told U.S.A Fencing.
Although there is nothing quite like seeing the action at the Olympic Games up close and personal, the spirit of the celebrations held in Muhammad's hometown, Maplewood, N.J., felt like an Olympics all its own.
"Our Jersey girl has a bronze!" Those were the only words that could be heard on the microphone amid the countless cheers at the New Jersey Fencing Alliance (NJFA) as the U.S. women's saber team defeated Italy, 42-30, in the finals and earned the bronze medal.