Getty Images

Ibtihaj Muhammad discusses election, her future

4 Comments

LOS ANGELES—After failing to make the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, Ibtihaj Muhammad was singularly focused on qualifying for the 2016 Olympics. Now she has a new date circled on her calendar: November 8.

“I am really looking forward to the [presidential] election,” Muhammad said. “We need a reprieve from all of this trauma.”

This summer Muhammad became the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, the traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women. The distinction earned significant media attention for Muhammad, who won a fencing team sabre bronze medal in Rio. She appeared on “The Ellen Show,” and was named one of the 100 most influential people for 2016 by TIME Magazine.

She is often asked about Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has proposed barring all Muslims from entering the United States. Muhammad famously responded “Who?” when reporters peppered her with questions about Trump during the Olympics.

Now that the Rio Games are over, Muhammad is more willing to express her political opinions.

“This is a moment in time where we can reject hate and take a stand as Americans to say this candidate doesn’t represent us,” Muhammad said.

Muhammad was vague when asked if she planned on endorsing a specific presidential candidate, instead encouraging everyone to remember to vote. When pressed, Muhammad revealed that she plans on voting for Hillary Clinton.

“To me, it is very clear which presidential candidate feels more in line with supporting minority communities in this country,” Muhammad said.

Clinton’s campaign sent a congratulatory tweet to Muhammad during the Olympics.

“Having Hillary Clinton, hopefully our next president, acknowledge Muslim women on the United States Olympic team is a wonderful moment not just for me, but for all of us,” Muhammad said. “It shows that we are a country of inclusion, acceptance and diversity.”

Muhammad has maintained a whirlwind travel schedule since the Rio Games, making speaking appearances and promoting her clothing line, Louella, which she describes as “modest, fashion-forward clothing.”

She recently returned to training in preparation for the Grand Prix season, which begins this December in Cancun, and eventually the 2017 World Championships. But she has not committed to attempting to compete at the 2020 Olympics, or even future world championships.

“I’m a firm believer in taking things day by day,” Muhammad said. “I don’t even know my plans for tomorrow.”

Muhammad, who studied international relations at Duke University, has considered eventually running for elected office. She served on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative, received a shout-out in a February speech from President Barack Obama, and even taught First Lady Michelle Obama how to fence.

“If I can use politics as an avenue to encourage and inspire our youth, why not?” Muhammad said.

Muhammad spoke on a panel at the LA84 Foundation Summit last week. Emcee Julie Foudy, a three-time U.S. Olympic soccer medalist, made Muhammad promise that she would consider running for president one day.

“I can’t wait for Donald Trump to be around to see that,” Foudy said.

MORE: First Lady ‘fences’ with Ibtihaj Muhammad

Russian skiers stay suspended awaiting Olympic doping cases

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Six Russian cross-country skiers will stay suspended until an IOC panel judges if they were part of a state-backed doping conspiracy at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says the Olympic commission – chaired by International Olympic Committee member Denis Oswald – should deliver rulings “during the summer period.”

The court says the skiers will stay provisionally suspended until at least Oct. 31. They include Alexander Legkov, the Olympic 50-kilometer freestyle champion, and Maxim Vylegzhanin, a three-time silver medalist at Sochi.

The skiers appealed against interim bans imposed by the International Ski Federation in December after they were implicated by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.

CAS hearings this month did not examine detailed doping allegations against Legkov, Vylegzhanin, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Evgeniy Belov and Julia Ivanova.

Tori Bowie upsets Elaine Thompson; Gatlin, Felix struggle at Pre

Leave a comment

Tori Bowie ran a statement 200m at the Pre Classic, clocking the fastest-ever time before the month of June and upsetting Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica.

And she called it a training race.

“My coach made it clear that we were just training for nationals,” Bowie, huffing and puffing after winning in 21.77 seconds, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “No pressure at all.”

Bowie, the Olympic 100m silver medalist and 200m bronze medalist, beat her personal best by .22 of a second.

While Bowie starred, U.S. stalwarts Allyson Felix and Justin Gatlin dropped to fifth-place finishes Saturday.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

Athletes are preparing for the U.S. Championships from June 23-25, a qualifying meet for the world championships in London in August.

Felix finished fifth in the 200m behind Bowie, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller, Thompson and Olympic 200m silver medalist Dafne Schippers.

“Not that great, not that great today,” Felix said, according to meet officials. “I feel like my training is going well, it was good to get out here and see where I was at.”

Felix has a bye into the worlds in the 400m as defending world champion but is no longer a medal favorite in the 200m, where she won Olympic silver in 2004 and 2008 and gold in 2012. She clocked 22.33 seconds for fifth Saturday, which was .35 behind third-place Thompson.

Felix missed the 2016 Olympic team in the 200m by .01 while slowed by an ankle injury. But in 2015, a healthy Felix ran faster than 22.33 in all four of her 200m races.

Gatlin finished fifth in the 100m in 9.97 seconds, continuing his slowest season in recent years. At 35 years old, he is no longer looking like the top rival to Usain Bolt, who debuts in his farewell season June 10.

In fact, Gatlin may be in danger of not making the U.S. team in the 100m, which will be the top three finishers at nationals in four weeks.

In contrast, American Ronnie Baker is looking like a medal contender. He won Saturday in 9.86 seconds, which would be the fastest time in the world this year if not for too much tailwind (2.4 meters/second).

Baker, 23, has been a surprise this season, breaking 10 seconds a total of three times including Saturday. He was eliminated in the 2016 Olympic Trials semifinals and had not broken 10 seconds with legal wind before this year.

“My thoughts were, I’ve got every chance to win this just as much as everyone else does,” Baker told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “9.86 is unbelievable.”

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a 16-year-old, became one of the youngest-ever to break four minutes in the mile. He finished 11th against a field of older runners.

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah held off Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha to extend his 5000m winning streak to 11 meets dating to 2013. Farah clocked 13:00.7 to Kejelcha’s 13:01.21.

It marked Farah’s last track race in the U.S. as the Oregon-based Brit plans to switch to marathon running after the world championships in August.

Rio gold medalist Caster Semenya barely extended her 800m undefeated streak to 16 finals. The scrutinized South Africa edged Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui by one tenth of a second, clocking 1:59.78.

Olympic champion Omar McLeod took the 110m hurdles in 13.01 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. McLeod beat a field that included Aries Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder (12.80), and 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Christian Taylor, a two-time Olympic champion, recorded the third-best triple jump of all time, 18.11 meters.

Rio bronze medalist Sam Kendricks won the pole vault against a field that included Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil, world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France and Swedish phenom Armand Duplantis, a Louisiana high school junior. Kendricks cleared 5.86 meters.

Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer won the 400m hurdles in 53.38 seconds, a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was fifth in her first 400m hurdles race of the year.

In the shot put, Olympic champion Ryan Crouser unleashed a 22.43-meter throw to beat a field including world champion Joe Kovacs.

Jasmin Stowers won the 100m hurdles in 12.59 seconds, .03 off the fastest time in the world this year. The field lacked suspended Olympic champion Brianna Rollins and world-record holder Keni Harrison, who recently suffered a broken hand.

Russian Maria Lasitskene won the high jump in her first competition outside of Russia since 2015, when she was world champion. Lasitskene competed as a neutral athlete Saturday as Russia is still banned from international competition due to its poor anti-doping record. Her 2.03-meter clearance matched the best in the world since June 2013.

The Diamond League continues in Rome on June 8, with coverage on NBC Sports Gold.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Runner clocks No. 2 time ever … after stopping to fix shoe