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Ibtihaj Muhammad makes history but Americans eliminated early

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Ibtihaj Muhammad made history in her Olympic debut for Team USA becoming the first American to wear a hijab during competition at the Olympics.


The New Jersey native viewed her presence as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than herself.


"I feel like this is a great opportunity and a great moment for Team USA to even be more diverse than we have in the past, and I'm just looking forward to representing myself, my community and also my country," she told the AP in Rio.


With the attention focused on her historic debut, Muhammad set her sights on her opponents.


Backed by "USA" cheers from the crowd, Muhammad faced Olena Kravatska of the Ukraine. Kravatska jumped out to quick 4-1 lead.


But Muhammad's resolve wouldn't let her back down.


The fencers tied several times before Kravatska slipped on the piste, allowing Muhammad to grab a 14-13 advantage.


Dodging one last attack from Kravatska, Muhammad scored the winning point to move on to the Round of 16.



Muhammad looked like she would make quick work of Frenchwomen Cecilia Berder but Berder stormed back to lead 8-7 at the end of the first period.


Points came at a premium for Muhammad in the second with Berder's lead ballooning to five. Muhammad quickly scored two consecutive points to pull within reach but Berder regained the advantage when she scored her 14th point, needing just one more for victory.


Muhammad looked ready to complete the comeback but Berder had other ideas. She backed the American to the back end of the piste. Muhammad lost her balance and slipped off. If a fencer forces their opponent off the piste, they are awarded a point thus giving Berder the victory.


Teammates Mariel Zagunis and Darmara Wozniak were also eliminated. Zagunis reached the Round of 16 but lost to #22 seed Ekaterina Dyachenko of Russia.


Zagunis had hoped to improve on her fourth place finish in London. Instead, this was her worst Olympic finish. Wozniak did not advance out of her Round of 32 bout.


"There is that silver lining in the sense that you do have that team event," Muhammad told the AP. "I know that the Americans didn't perform in the way that we wanted, but I love my team, I love my teammates and I believe in them. I believe in myself. I believe in us, and I want us to win a medal more than anything. I want us to do it for our country."



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