Teenager on track to achieve Olympics dream

Suzanne McFadden

Suzanne McFadden

Auckland, September 12, 2020

Aysha Hussan of Auckland joins the world of talented Muslim women

                 

                                                                Aysha Hussan

Aysha Hussan has just begun a full scholarship at Botany Downs Secondary College, and hopes to become a doctor and a history-making Olympic track athlete for New Zealand.

At just 14, Aysha has already achieved so much, as the New Zealand face on the global Muslim women’s Sports Powerlist for 2020.

Super women from the Muslim world

A promising track athlete and netballer, Aysha says that she knows it is “a big achievement” to be on the List with 34 other Muslim women involved in sport around the world.

The teenager sits proudly alongside 400 m hurdles Olympic Champion American Dalilah Muhammad, and Indonesian climber Aries Susanti, the first woman in the world to climb a speed wall in under seven seconds.

 

Zahra Lari, the first skater with a hijab

Then there is Emirati Zahra Lari, the first international figure skater to compete wearing a hijab, and her fellow countrywoman Amna Al Qubaisi, ‘The Flying Girl’, who was the first Middle Eastern woman to test drive in Formula E (that session in Saudi Arabia in 2018 was just months after the country lifted its ban prohibiting all women from driving).

Lofty goals

Although she is yet to rush onto the world athletics stage, Aysha has set herself lofty goals.

As well as wanting to be a doctor, it’s her dream to become the first Muslim woman to represent New Zealand at an Olympic Games. “I want to run the 400 m,” says the Year 9 student at Botany Downs Secondary College in Auckland.

“I have to work hard and keep on striving, then I can get there one day.”

The people closest to Aysha – her parents and her coach – say the young woman may not yet fully realise the magnitude of being recognised by the international Muslim Women in Sport Network, who are behind the Powerlist.

Dr Nida Ahmad, a researcher at the University of Waikato, who is on the global network’s Executive Committee, says that making the List at such a young age is a “huge accomplishment” for Aysha, and should inspire other young girls to also follow their passion.

 
AMMI Athletics Club Track Coach Pawan Marhas

“I think that she is slowly realising what it means to be a young brown Muslim woman in sports and the importance of her visibility to others. There is great power in her visibility. She is going to have an impact on young girls and women when they see someone who looks like them or comes from a similar background and a love for sports. Also, for Muslim parents or families who may be hesitant for daughters taking up sport, seeing someone like Aysha may help shift those perceptions,” Dr Ahmad said.

 
Aysha Hussan on a 400 m race for AMMI Athletics Club
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