Tunisian fencer Ines Boubakri, who won Olympic bronze in the foil at Rio 2016, says winning a Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award shows that Arab women exist.
Boubakri, 28, is the daughter of 1996 Olympian foil and epeeist Henda Zaouali, and is married to French fencer Erwann Le Pechoux, 34, who won team foil silver for France in Rio.
She was one of five Arab women recognised in Monday’s award ceremony at Dubai World Trade Centre.
The others were fellow Olympic bronze medallists, Tunisian wrestler Marwa Amri, Egyptian taekwondoist Hedaya Malak, Egyptian weightlifter Sarah Samir, and double Paralympian gold medallist shot putter Maroua Brahmi from Tunisia.
“This shows that Arab women exist and they exist in all domains,” said Boubakri.
“I’m really proud of this award, proud for Arab and Tunisian women, and I hope young Arab women can take example of me and my colleagues.
“I want to tell them that nothing is impossible, if you want to do something just go on.
“I won’t lie to you, it has been hard to improve our place, but now we exist, we are here, and I hope we can achieve more.
“I want Arab women to be at all events and have their place, they deserve their place just as much as anyone else, because although cultures differ the mind is the same.”
Boubakri, who was one of a record six Arab female athletes to medal at Rio, added that the award would also motivate her personally for the future.
“This will help me achieve more, I’m preparing for the World Championships in July this year, and have started preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, I got bronze last time and now I really want to win gold.”
Male Arab Olympians Ahmad Abu Ghaush, the Jordanian Taekwondoist, and Kuwaiti shooter Fehaid Al Deehani, both of whom won gold in their fields at Rio, were also awarded on Monday, taking the number of Olympians present at the ceremony to seven.
“I’m so proud to be mentioned among these names,” said Ghaush. “This award will support me for the future to get more good results.
“It’s very important for Arab sport to be recognised with these awards, the Olympics last year saw few Arab winners, but this award will support and encourage associations to prepare more for the future.
“This year is the World Cup and I want to be champion, step-by-step, year-after-year, I want to maintain my ranking because of Tokyo 2020.”
A total of 16 medals were won by nine Arab countries over eight sports during the Rio 2016 Olympics, three gold, four silver and nine bronze. Two aren’t official because Kuwait was suspended for political interference. Either way, this was still more than the 12 won at London 2012, three gold, two silver and seven bronze.
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