A lot of you probably know Noor Alexandria Abukaram from the cross country meet she was disqualified from last fall for her hijab. It's been about 6 months, and we caught up with Noor about her experience and what's next for her. We also interviewed her mom, Yolanda Melendez, about what it was like for her as a mother. (Check out our next post to hear from Yolanda)!
Noor! Thanks so much for chatting with us today and for doing this awesome campaign with us! How did you become a runner? Do you compete in other sports? If so, which is your favorite?
Both of my parents are runners and they definitely had a part in encouraging me to run. But actually, I initially started running to get faster for soccer and to stay in shape. Soccer is my favorite sport because it gets my mind off of things. When I’m running, it’s like I have all the time in the world to think, but when I’m playing soccer there is no time to think about anything else other than the game. As I kept training, I ended up falling in love with running because it’s something that I have full control of the outcome.
What was your favorite moment during any one competition?
One of my favorite things during any race is that even though I’m breathing heavily and there are so many screaming spectators, I can always hear my dad cheering me on in the crowd.
What are your main strengths as an athlete?
I am very competitive, which is super helpful, especially in running. I am mentally very strong, and I train hard, even when no one is watching.
Now that it’s been about 6 months since the meet you were disqualified from, how has your perspective changed as a student and as an athlete since then?
I see sport in a whole different light now. Since the incident, my eyes are open to a whole new community of Muslim athletes that I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know much about the struggles of Muslim athletes in America until I was challenged with my own.
You’ve become a role model for young Muslim women. Do you have a message for young Muslim girls about playing sports and being active?
You'll never know what you can get out of being a part of a team will do for you until you try it. Also, a big lesson I’ve learned this year is to never compromise yourself to make the person next to you feel comfortable.
What can we do as a business and community to support you as a young Muslim female athlete in America today?
Simply by making a sports hijab, the work you do is beautiful and normalizes hijabi women in sports.