Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselv
es, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? – Marianne Williamson
I am usually an Olympics addict. But this year, I just haven’t had the time to devote to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. However, last Friday morning my daughter and I had the fortune to relax and watch the heats for the women’s 100 meters.
In some of the heats, there were a few women from Middle Eastern countries who wore clothing that covered them from head to toe. It caught my attention and made me stand up and take notice. This is what I love about the Olympics: If you show up to race – you belong. But these women were stand outs. Let me tell you why.
Halay Gazah from Libya
Halay didn’t finish in the top two qualifying positions in her heat. In fact, it seemed as if she knew she would not win. She didn’t even feel she deserved to have place on the team. But, she ran anyway. She ran to show people around the world a different side of Libya. She showed up because she embodied strength, determination and pride in self and country. Impressive. Why her? Who is she not to race?
Tahmina Kohistani from Afghanistan
Tahmina Kohistani raced in an Islamic hijab, which covered her body from head to toe. She was the only female athlete
representing Afghanistan at the London Olympics, and the third woman from Afghanistan to ever compete. She wore the hijab so people would know she is a Muslim.
It was a hard fought rode for Tahima to get to the Olympics. Many in her country, including other women, didn’t support her participation in sports. They don’t believe women should compete. Why was she so sure that she should? She said her strength comes from her parents. They believe in her and support her.
While I am sure that her parents support gives her strength, don’t underestimate her. She is brave; she trains through gunfire. She wants the women of Afghanistan to see that you can do everything you want. She trains for the women of her country — even if some of them don’t
believe in what she is doing. Why her? Who is she not to race?
Noor Hussain Al-Malki from Qatar
Noor Hussain Al-Malki also raced in a hijab; it was deep maroon. She was striking as she lined up in the starting block. Not only
was Noor the first women to compete in track and field for Qatar, she is the first woman from her country to compete in the Olympics, ever.
The 17-year-old didn’t finish the race. She pulled up short just after the first few steps.
In the end, she left the arena in a wheelchair.
She races because she wants “all Qatari girls and women to know that sport is very good.” She is living what she believes in; she leads by example. Why her? Who is she not to race?
Why them? None of these women qualified for the semifinals. In fact, the races they ran weren’t for a gold medal. They ran to show their value as human beings. Their strength of character more than qualified them to race in the Olympics. When their moment came, they showed up and ran with it.
What about you? What do you do when your moments arrive? Who are you not to ask for what you want? Who are you not to take a chance? Who are you not to show people what you believe in? Who are you not to shine in your own area of the world?
The next time you are afraid to standout or make waves or disagree, think of Halay, Tahmina and Noor. Then ask, try, believe and do.