A star on the track and in the field. Olympic gold medalist, mentor to young athletes, and champion for the rights of Muslims.
Muhammad was born in 1990 to Muslim parents in Jamaica, Queens, New York. She began running as a child and has shown no sign of slowing her pace. When she was only 4 years old, representatives from the NY Novas Track Club in Brooklyn witnessed Muhammad’s long jumps, encouraged her to join the team, and by the age of 7, she did. Initially, Muhammad’s mother, Nadirah, didn’t want her daughter to compete in the hurdles, fearing for her safety. But the coaches were convincing and, with time, were proved right—Dalilah Muhammad was a great hurdler. At Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, she competed in various track and field events, from hurdles and sprints to the high jump. She took the gold medal at the 2007 World Youth Championships in Athletics, and she won the 2008 New York State and Nike Outdoor Nationals titles, all in the 400-meter hurdles.
Muhammad enrolled at the University of Southern California in 2008, with a track scholarship, majoring in business. During her first season on the USC Trojans track team, she placed runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles and set a personal record as a finalist in the 100-meter hurdles at the Pacific-10 Conference. As a sophomore, she was runner-up at the Pac-10 championships, and in 2012, came in fifth in her specialty at the NCAA finals and participated in the heats at the U.S. Olympic Trials. At the end of her career as a USC Trojan, she was the university’s third-fastest-ever 400-meter hurdler and a four-time NCAA All-American. Muhammad continued to demonstrate her prowess, winning the 400-meter hurdles in 52.88 seconds at the 2016 United States Olympic Trials in track and field. She took that fight to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, where she won the gold medal.
Today, Dalilah Muhammad is a champion on another field as well, speaking out on behalf of the rights of Muslims here in the United States. As part of Nike’s 2017 “Equality” campaign, she called attention to injustices inherent in President Trump’s executive order on immigration and rallied other athletes to add their voices in support of important causes. She has shared her experiences in the media, discussing how, as a dark-skinned Muslim athlete, she receives far less attention than her dominance on the track merits.
Muhammad continues to train, broaden her views, mentor younger athletes, and connect to leaders in her sport. “It’s been difficult for Black women, especially in track and field, and I’m trying to ease that route for the next person behind me. We all need to work harder today to make this route easier for the people behind us.”
“Being a Muslim woman, being a Black woman, just being a woman in general, we have so many things fighting against us already, so it’s important to be that voice for someone else.”
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