LONDON: A 24-year-old woman from Iran will on this weekend make history in London by becoming the first female triathlete to take part in a world championship under the green, white and red tricolour of the Islamic republic’s flag.
Shirin Gerami will join 8,500 athletes from 83 countries taking part in the PruHealth world triathlon grand final in Hyde Park, competing in full Islamic dress through a 1,500 metre swim, a 40km bike race and 10km run.
Gerami, who lives in Britain, wrote to the authorities at Iran’s ministry for sports and youth affairs four months ago, attempting to persuade them that Iranian women could compete in the triathlon. She travelled to Iran a few weeks ago to push her case.
“When I turned up in person on their doorsteps, they realised that I am very serious, and I am willing to do anything,” she said in an interview from Tehran, one day before flying back to London.
I was overwhelmed by how far people went in order to support me.
Officials at Iran’s national triathlon federation told Gerami this week that she can participate in the London event. She will be competing in a full hijab that will cover her body from head to toe, a dress she has worked on to make sure it meets Iran’s requirements. Organisers of the London grand final have also agreed to provide a tent for her to be able to change clothes as soon as she gets out of the water.
Gerami said her few months’ struggle had been “one of the most surreal, enriching, enlightening experiences” of her life.
“I can safely say I am a different person because of it.