Mahrouz Saei, Iran’s top female taekwondo fighter, is successfully promoting the sport among young women, despite the lack of state support.
Saei, 26, has fought in many championships around the world, and has won gold and silver medals at several Asian tournaments.
“Taekwondo gives a girl the opportunity to defend and attack, and I think that each of us should go in for such sports, even for a short period of time, to learn to protect themselves better,” Mahrouz Saei explains.
She grew up in a family that loves sports. Her brother, Hadi Saei, is a former taekwondo world champion and an Olympic gold medalist.
He provided her with crucial support and gave her the determination to succeed on the national and international levels, despite the initial objections of their mother.
“I was against the training at the beginning because this sport is difficult for girls, but once I saw how she wins matches, and won a gold medal, I felt very proud,” their mother says.
Despite leaving the professional sport, her love for taekwondo is still alive, as she trains young girls. They all wear the hijab, which is not considered as barrier to the sport.
“To wear the hijab can be a little hard during training and competitions, but it does not affect whether they win or not, and because the girls aim for victory, they encounter more difficulties when they are wearing the hijab, and it raises their spirit,” Mahrouz says.
Mahrouz says this sport is not simple – it requires physical strength, in addition to high self-confidence and the ability to master the art of movement that lets you deliver a decisive strike at the right time.
Despite the low level support for women’s sport in Iran, Mahrouz has achieved her ambition, and she is now opening the way for other competitors to take on the world’s top taekwondo fighters.