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Eid Mubarak-GB Taekwondo breaking down barriers with cultural awareness event

24th April 2023

GB Taekwondo’s Mohammed Nour with speaker, Khadijah Mellah and fellow athlete, Farzad Mansouri.

A cultural awareness event was hosted by GB Taekwondo as Muslims around the world prepared for their Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.

The Manchester-based organisation welcomed athletes, staff, stakeholders and key note speakers for prayers, conversation and following the breaking of the daily fast at sunset (the evening meal known as iftar).

A thought provoking and illuminating address was given by Khadijah Mellah; the 22-year-old Londoner becoming the first hijab-wearing jockey in 2019 to take part in a competitive British horse race.

Khadijah, a mechanical engineering student at Brighton University, marked her debut in the saddle by winning the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood.

Khadijah Mellah talking through her journey as the first Muslim jockey in the UK.

Her experiences of training and fasting during Ramadan resonated with GB Taekwondo fighter, Mohammed Nour, who has been preparing to compete at the World Championships in Azerbaijan next month, and Farzad Mansouri, Afghanistan’s flag bearer at Tokyo 2020, who trains alongside the GBT squad.

Former GBT athletes of muslim faith include double Olympic medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, and twice Olympian and World Championship silver medallist, Mahama Cho, now Egypt’s recently appointed Technical Director.

Khadijah also revealed her own experiences of competing in taekwondo in addition to achieving a black belt in karate.

The evening at Vermillion Restaurant opened with prayers and explanation of the Muslim faith from Imam Shafiq of the British Muslim Heritage Centre, Manchester.

Imam Shafiq from the British Muslim Heritage Centre.

Paul Buxton, GBT’s Chief Executive Officer, welcomed guests, including UK Sport and Sporting Equals-an organisation promoting ethnic diversity in sport-prior to a question-and-answer session with Khadijah.

“This is the first time we have done this but I hope we can make a habit of taking time out to better see each other and the things that are important in our lives.

“One of the values that’s not necessarily written on the walls of the National Taekwondo Centre but which I so often see and hear from you is the value of inclusion: the desire to give people a fighting chance, regardless of faith, ethnicity, social, economic, or educational background.

Olympian Lauren Williams alongside Para Taekwondo athlete, Keira Forsythe.

“Whatever your own experience, I hope you recognise the importance of what we are doing and can relate to it.

“We are one of the few Olympic and Paralympic sports that regularly have athletes, and staff of Muslim faith in our team and therefore see an opportunity to play our part in encouraging Muslim communities to engage in sport and trying to break down some of the barriers they face.”

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