As one of the first global fitness brands to champion the intensity and passion of veiled Muslim athletes, Nike continues to represent with its second regional installment of its Dream Crazier campaign featuring marathoner and mountaineer Manal Rostom.
An Egyptian athlete, model and co-founder of ‘Surviving Hijab’, Manal inspires us daily, from smashing her PB in this month’s London Marathon to climbing Everest Base Camp with her fellow crew of incredible Hijabi women to raise awareness for tolerance and equality. Her latest campaign for Nike tells Rostom’s story as an everyday athlete and her unwavering commitment to pursue non-conventional sports, as well as her aspirations of leading a generation of unstoppable female athletes to step into their own crazy dreams.
Photo courtesy of Nike
“When I was younger, I experimented with other sports, but I was either too short or didn’t have the right coach - until I found running,” says Rostom. “It was as if the sport chose me, I could train myself and work as hard as I needed to on my own. It became part of my identity and the track was no longer just a place for me to have an outlet for my energy, it was my independence. It became where I found peace, growth, and stability in difficult times. It gave me purpose and now, I cannot imagine myself without running, I have to keep going - not just for me, but for all the young girls after me with the same dream - this is what I live for.”
Photo courtesy of Nike
Nike launched its Nike Pro Hijab back in 2017, and since then the brand has been committed to raising the awareness of Muslim athletes all over the world, most recently profiling two-time Emirati National champion Zahra Lari, who has broken boundaries both on and off the ice as the first figure skater to compete in a hijab.
“I fought very hard for thirteen years to not stand out and to continue to be a normal member of the sports communities as a hijabi,” Manal told Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia. “And after thirteen years I felt like I was losing the battle, which led to Surviving Hijab-- because I wanted to create an online platform for women to share in private their utmost fears and concerns and the issues that they would not otherwise share or talk about in public for fear that they will be judged. So having come very close to basically bailing on my journey with the hijab I feel like I fought very, very hard to continue wearing it.”
You go, girl!