Rower Mohamed Sbihi becomes Team GB's first Muslim flagbearer

Rower Mohamed Sbihi becomes Team GB's first Muslim flagbearer
2 min read
23 July, 2021
Gold medallist rower Mohamed Sbihi carried the flag for
Great Britain alongside sailor Hannah Mills at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.
Mohamed Sbihi is a gold medalist rower [Getty]

Gold medallist rower Mohamed Sbihi became the first Muslim to be flagbearer for the Great Britain Olympic team in Tokyo at the competition's opening ceremony on Friday.

Sbihi, who was born to a British mother and Moroccan father, won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in the men’s four and will make history as the first Muslim to carry the flag for team GB the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

He was joined at the opening ceremony by gold medallist sailor Hannah Mills, in what became the first time that the flag was be carried by two people after the IOC decided the national Olympic committee could nominate one woman and one man.

"It's something I never really considered would happen in my career," Sbihi said in an interview with Eurosport.

"I always try to lead by example and this is something else I can add to my repertoire trying to improve the numbers of Islamic faith within the sport of rowing and Olympic sport in general."

He added: "I hope I can inspire kids to pick up a row and try the sport out. Whilst I am tall, I’m just a normal person who got very lucky."

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"Even being part of the Olympic ceremony is an honour as a rower," he said.

Sbihi was born in the town of Kingston upon Thames in London.

At the age of 15, he was scouted to join the GB Rowing World Class Start programme, and he later studied Sports Science at St. Mary's University College on a sports scholarship in 2006.

After university he went on to win several gold medals in national and international competitions.

A record number of Arab athletes are expected to compete at the championships, which will take place from 23rd July to 8th of August 2021. Those who have made it to the Olympics hold an impressive collection of medals, counting 23 gold, 24 silver and 47 bronze. 

The Tokyo Games began at last Friday night in a multinational showcase of the finest athletes amid continued challenges related to the pandemic.

This article is part of The New Arab's special coverage of the Tokyo Olympics. Click here to read the whole series.