DOHA, Qatar December 11, 2006 – Bahrain’s Asian Games 200m gold medal winner Ruqaya Al Ghasara has dedicated her victory to all Muslim women.
Al Ghasara, who competes in a body-covering running suit and headscarf in accordance with Muslim tradition, told the Associated Press: "It's an incredible feeling. I can't describe it”. She won the 200 meters event in 23.19 seconds.
The 24 year old says she isn't held back by running in a hijab, or full Muslim headscarf. In fact, she says, it makes her even quicker.
Speaking to the Associated Press Al Ghasara said: "Wearing traditional Muslim dress has encouraged me. It's not an obstacle - quite the opposite."
Al Ghasara won the bronze medal in an earlier 100 meter event. She said her outfit is a personal choice, although tradition weighs heavily. While other Bahraini female athletes compete in the clothing more typical of their sports, many are naturalized Bahraini citizens who were not raised Muslim.
Al Ghasara, who claims U.S. sprinter Marion Jones as a role model, said she hoped her clothing choice would inspire other Muslim women to join in competitive sports.
Last December she made history when she won her 100 meters heat to become the first woman to win a race at the West Asian Games (WAG), which had previously been men only.
Below: Ruqaya Al Ghasara of Bahrain celebrates winning the Women's 200m during the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 at the Khalifa Stadium December 11, 2006 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images for DAGOC)