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Rio 2016: Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad becomes first American athlete to compete wearing a hijab

Women's Sabre Individual Table of 32 - Carioca Arena 3 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history Monday by becoming the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Muhammad, sporting a plain black Muslim head scarf under a red, white and blue mask, was a winner in her opening bout in the women’s sabre tournament, beating Olena Kravatska of Ukraine 15-13.

Muhammad, ranked eighth in the world in her weapon, will next face ninth-ranked Cecilia Berder of France.

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The New Jersey native began fencing when she was 13-years-old. According to her biography on the Team USA website, she first began training in the sport because it’s one of the only activities that uniquely accommodates her religion, which requires her body to be fully covered.

Muhammad was named Muslim Sportswoman of the Year in 2012 and serves on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative.

– With files from Global News reporter Nicole Bogart

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