20 year old Woroud is a runner and sports major at Najah National University in Palestine. She is from Aseera Al Shamalia which is right outside of Nablus in the West Bank. She caught everyone’s attention during the Olympics when she competed in her hijab for Palestine. Although Woroud didn’t win, she won worldwide respect and made Palestinians and Muslim women very proud.
| 1. What is the greatest memory you have of your time at the Olympics?
The greatest memory I have wass during the closing ceremony when I got to carry the Palestinian flag and lead our group. I also really liked the pictures.
| 2. When did you meet the rest of the Palestinian team?
Unfortunately we are all from different areas and there were so many factors that made it difficult for us to meet, most specifically the Israeli occupation.
| 3. Were you all together all the time?
We used to go to most places together except for training and we all had different training schedules. We all watched each other’s competitions. However, unfortunately at the time of my race, most of the team that was from Gaza had already gone home due to their fear that the bridge would be closed and they wouldn’t be able to get back home.
| 4. Obviously your parents were very proud of you. How often did you talk to them while you were in London? What was the greatest piece of advice they gave you?
Before I had to give up my phone to security the day of my race, my dad called me and told me, “My dear, don’t be afraid and be confident in yourself. We have the whole village in our living room watching you and cheering you on.” They always advise me to give my all and try my best to get results.
| 5. When you got back to Palestine, how was your reception?
I came home to open arms and hugs. My mother lifted me and twirled. All the neighbors were out on the streets to greet me. There were some people that had a hard time accepting the fact that I didn’t win as they have been watching me win again and again in Palestine. But I do not blame them for they had no idea what I was competing against in terms of the other runners.
| 6. What are your future plans?
I have a dream that I will reach my goal of winning gold.
| 7. This Olympics games took place during Ramadan. What was it like fasting while training?
The days that I could fast in, I did fast. And the days that my training took all morning I use to eat. And on the morning of my race, I had some honey with dates.
| 8. When people think of Woroud Sawalha, what do you want people to remember the most?
Of course when I run, I am not running for myself because I represent my country and I want Allah to be pleased with me first and then other people second.
| 9. This is obviously a life changing opportunity. Did you feel that you changed? What was the greatest thing that you learned?
What changed the most was that people started to know who I was. This opportunity made me want to change the lives of girls who wear hijab and encourage them to take part in competitive sports. And I learned that impossible is not so hard to overcome afterall.
| 10. Is there anything you would like to add?
I hope that I will still have access to the training camps for the next four years so that I can better compete for the gold and place Palestine on the Olympic map. And I am extremely happy and grateful when I hear that I have supporters all over the world.
Check out part 1 of this interview!
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