Her excessive entrance kick may simply take down an opponent and win her a medal in any championship. However in Afghanistan, taekwondo champion Marzieh Hamidi has been sex-shamed by the Taliban and pushed out of her homeland.
“Many males in Taliban’s Afghanistan have been led to imagine ladies can’t be champions. Once I open my legs excessive up for coaching, they are saying ‘you misplaced your virginity, you’re dangerous’,” says Hamidi, who represented her nation’s nationwide staff earlier than the Taliban took over.
“That is violence for me. It doesn’t need to be a slap on my face. That is sufficient violence and destruction for my mind,” she tells The Unbiased.
The 21-year-old, who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban stormed to energy, says anger has been brewing like a storm inside her chest since August 2021 and her kicks and punches at the moment are fuelled by that aggression and rage.
Taliban fighters have been within the streets exterior her home in Kabul’s Karte Char, she says, as she watched them from her home window. Her father returned from an errand and instructed her, “they’ve arrived”, leaving her in full disbelief.
To gauge what was occurring to her neighbourhood, the then 19-year-old Hamidi wore a burqa thrice her dimension and went to her favorite cafe, dragging a good friend alongside.
“We solely noticed the Taliban’s armed fighters guarding each nook and nook, contained in the restaurant and out of doors my home. The sort of males I had by no means seen earlier than, in lengthy beards and holding some kind of weapon. I didn’t see any girl out in public after that,” she says.
She waited for the preliminary chaos on the Herat and Kabul airports to subside earlier than with the ability to escape the oppressive regime. Her household modified their house thrice in Kabul.
Meet the Afghan refugee utilizing taekwondo to battle towards the Taliban
Ultimately, she was evacuated by France together with 3,000 different individuals in November, making her a refugee as soon as once more – a label that has adopted her round since delivery.
She was born in exile in Iran in 2002 and managed to return to her house nation in 2019, solely dwelling there for 2 years earlier than being pressured to flee once more.
Hamidi will now be competing as a part of the refugee staff on the World Taekwondo Championship on 29 Could in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“It breaks my coronary heart to not have the colors of Afghanistan characterize me on the world stage. It has harm me lots as a result of it was my dream to be on the earth championship alongside my house staff however I take this as an opportunity to battle for myself, my nation and my ladies and a few people who find themselves from the identical nation however is not going to help me for not carrying a hijab,” Hamidi says.
“I’ll nonetheless characterize them.”
She can be pitted towards taekwondo champions from the world over within the 57kg class, amid a gutting cycle of lack of her homeland, leaving her dad and mom and household behind, watching her sports activities federation in Kabul collapse, and different staff members disappear below the Taliban rule.
Even when she needed to characterize a Taliban-led Afghanistan, the hardline Islamist regime’s oppressive gender insurance policies have left her with no staff – Afghanistan will solely be sending males to compete on the earth championship this yr.
“Solely boys are allowed to coach in Afghanistan for taekwondo and solely they’re allowed to come back to Baku. I’ll see the boys and males who’ve educated for the championship,” she says.
The Taliban would by no means ship ladies to championships so long as they’re in energy in Kabul, Hamidi says, including that she would by no means characterize them by alternative if that modified.
“For me they’re a bunch of terrorists. Due to them I needed to begin my life another time, I needed to go away my nation. I’m alone, I misplaced my house and I misplaced so many individuals again house within the conflict. I need to now present to the Taliban that refugees are usually not as weak as they’re considered,” she says.
Seeing her nation fall to the Taliban has taken a psychological toll as powerful as any bodily battle, she says.
“Generally I zone out and my thoughts goes again to Afghanistan. I misplaced my battle in Belgium due to the Taliban, which was my first battle after fleeing Kabul. I used to be depressed and when I’m reeling below that feeling, I should not have vitality in my legs, in my physique to battle and lift it excessive sufficient for a kick,” she says.
“My coach requested me ‘what occurred to you’ however I can by no means clarify my psychological battle to anybody else who will not be from Afghanistan.” How do you clarify the horrors of changing into a refugee by the hands of the Taliban to individuals exterior of the nation, she asks. “Nobody will perceive.”
“There isn’t any house. I chase that feeling daily however I spend sleepless nights to simply really feel I belong someplace. I need to know what homeland means. I’m instructed house is a sense however proper now I don’t have that feeling as nicely,” she says.
With all odds stacked towards her, Hamidi says she will not be afraid to name a spade a spade.
“My taekwondo is my battle as a result of they banned it and I left there (Afghanistan). I got here to Paris to grow to be a champion to indicate them that should you ban me from there, I can proceed right here, that I can battle towards you and I can battle towards your thoughts [to show] that girls are sturdy. I can do something I would like and I’ve the ability,” she says.
“I’ll battle for Afghanistan however I’ll do it my approach. I can’t be the Taliban’s sufferer.”