Ibtihaj Muhammad

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Ibtihaj Muhammad and U.S. fencers eliminated at Worlds

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Ibtihaj Muhammad lost to Germany’s Ann-Sophie Kindler, 15-12, in her opening bout of the women’s individual sabre, Round of 64, at the 2017 World Fencing Championships in Leipzig, Germany. Muhammad finished the event ranked 36th. Her best finish at Worlds in individual sabre came in 2013 when she finished 18th.

Famously becoming the first U.S. athlete to compete at an Olympic Games while wearing a hijab, Muhammad stood on the fencing team sabre event podium at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning bronze with fellow fencers Monica Aksamit, Dagmara Wozniak and Mariel Zagunis.

Also appearing in the women’s individual sabre Round of 64 for the U.S. at Worlds, Monica Aksamit and Dagmara Wozniak won their opening bouts. Wozniak, currently the highest ranking U.S. fencer in sabre at 18th in the world, defeated China’s Jia Xiaoye and Aksamit beat Hong Kong’s Chan Yin Fei – both contests ending with a score of 15-9.

The Americans were unable to make it two-in-a-row after advancing to the Round of 32, as both fell to their opponents. Wozniak was beaten in a close battle, 14-15, by Russia’s Sofia Pozdniakova while Aksamit was knocked out by Japan’s Norika Tamura, 11-15.

Mariel Zagunis, one of only two U.S. fencers to win Olympic gold – her first coming in 2004 – was not on the pistes in Leipzig. This year is the first time Zagunis has been absent for a world championships since 1999. Back in May of 2017, Zagunis announced she was pregnant, expecting the birth of her first child in October. Zagunis is planning her return to competition and for a run at what would be her fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Muhammad, Aksamit and Wozniak will be back in action at Worlds on July 25 when they are joined by Anne-Elizabeth Stone to compete in the women’s team sabre event.

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MORE: Mariel Zagunis announces pregnancy

Ibtihaj Muhammad discusses election, her future

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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

U.S. fencers take bronze in women’s team sabre

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After winning just one medal in London four years, the U.S. fencing team has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts in Rio.

Saturday the women took bronze in the team sabre competition, defeating Italy 45-30 in the bronze medal match. The American team, consisting of Ibtihaj Muhammad, Mariel Zagunis and Dagmara Wozniak, was consistent as they registered five touches in each of their nine bouts. That consistency was key, as the U.S. team built an insurmountable advantage in the middle three bouts of the match.

WATCH: U.S. women take bronze in team sabre

Wozniak’s 5-1 win over Loretta Gulotta in the fourth bout started the run, with Muhammad following with a 5-3 victory and Zagunis winning the sixth bout 5-2. That combined 15-6 total extended the American advantage from four points to 13, as they led 30-17 after six bouts. Zagunis’ 5-3 victory over Rossella Gregorio in the ninth bout gave the United States the victory and their second bronze in women’s team sabre with the first coming in 2008. The U.S. fencing team has now won four medals in Rio, three more than their haul in London.

As for Zagunis, she’s now the first American fencer to win a medal in three different Olympic Games. She was also on that 2008 team that took bronze in the team sabre, the only other time the event has been held. One team event is rotated out at each Olympics, and in 2012 women’s team sabre was the one that was removed.

Russia defeated Ukraine 45-30 to take gold in the women’s team sabre, with their team including the gold and silver medalists in the individual sabre competition. Yana Egorian now has two gold medals in these Olympics, with Sophia Velikaya having a gold medal to go with the silver she earned in individual sabre.