Young, strong and Muslim: The hijab wearing powerlifter breaking stereotypes

  • Video report by ITV Wales reporter Kelsey Redmore

A Bengali woman living in Swansea is challenging perceptions around powerlifting and hoping other women to get involved in the sport.

As a young muslim woman, Tahirah Ali says she never saw people like her competing in the sport.

She's hoping to break down barriers these barriers and has recently been nominated for an award for her work.

Tahirah said she was "very shy" when she first walked into the gym

She said: "At the start of my journey I was very shy, I wouldn't really communicate with a lot of people.

"But power lifting and being in a gym in this space environment has really helped with my confidence, not only in myself but also in powerlifting to really push, push my limits."

Tahirah's faith is very important to her so she chooses to lift weights while wearing a hijab.

"In terms of my faith and powerlifting, I found they pretty much come hand in hand," shed explained.

"Recently I was determined to compete and I found that the only reason I wasn't competing was because of the dress code.

"Being able to compete wearing my hijab and being fully covered was really empowering, especially because I hadn't seen anyone else, especially in Wales, compete in power lifting."

Tahirah was nominated for a 'Young Achiever' Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association (EMWWAA) Award.

She was one of many inspirational women who attended the EMWWAAs sixth award ceremony in Cardiff on 17 September. The awards take place bi-annually and were set up by Meena Upadhyaya twelve years ago.

Meena said she noticed a lack of diversity among the nominees at other Welsh awards, prompting her to take action. The professor of medical genetics hopes to "empower" and "uplift" other ethnic minority women as the EMWWAA Awards continue to grow. 

Some of the winners on the night included ITV Cymru Wales reporter, Charanpreet Khaira and Suzanne Duval, who won a lifetime achievement award.

Suzanne has worked to improve mental health services for black people for more than 20 years. She also recently began collaborating with Welsh health boards, to help represent the views of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people with dementia or mental health issues.