WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ibtihaj Muhammad of Maplewood has been named by President Barack Obama as one of four Olympic medalists to join the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, according to a press release from USA Fencing. Muhammad was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
In addition to Muhammad's appointment on Jan. 17, also joining the council are Carli Lloyd, FIFA Player of the Year, who was named a member and co-chair; Olympic Gymnastics Champion Gabrielle Douglas, and Caitlin Cahow, a two-time Olympic medalist in ice hockey, stated the release from USA Fencing.
President Obama said, “I am proud that such experienced and committed individuals have agreed to serve the American people in these important roles. I know they will serve the American people well," according to a release from his press secretary.
"I am honored to be appointed to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. President Obama's nomination is deeply meaningful to me and I hope to serve the American people in supporting the President and First Lady's important work toward a more health conscious nation," Muhammad said.
Muhammad made headlines and history as the first U.S. woman to compete in a hijab at the Olympic Games before going on to win a bronze medal with the U.S. Women's Saber Team in Rio last summer. Muhammad was also named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2016.
A graduate of Columbia High School, where she first fenced, and Duke University, with degrees in international relations and African and African-American studies, Muhammad previously served on the U.S. Department of State's Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, a selection by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
At her homecoming parade in Maplewood in September, Muhammad said, "Even when I was told that I didn't belong or that I shouldn't fence because I was a girl, or because I was black, or because I was Muslim — I want everyone here to know that I've never felt that here at home."
In an interview with TIME, Muhammad shared her belief in sports being able to bring people together, stating, "Sport has the unique ability to bridge cultures. I hope that we continue to provide opportunities to women and girls to empower themselves through sport.”