Beach Volleyball: Egypt's player in hijab gets Brazilian support

Tue Aug 9, 2016 2:33pm EDT
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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - As Egypt's Doaa Elghobashy went up for a block on Italy's Laura Giombini on Copacabana's famous sand, two cultures appeared to come together.

Elghobashy, head covered by a hijab, raised her long sleeved arms and - this time - won a point against her bikini-clad competitor.

The Brazilian crowd, who had stayed after watching their own team lose earlier in the morning went wild.

"Egypt, Egypt, Egypt," echoed the chant around the 12,000 capacity arena on Copacabana beach as the crowd rooted for the underdog.

Elghobashy, 19, and competing in her first Olympics, has already achieved widespread internet fame. A Reuters picture on Sunday of her challenging a German player at the net went viral.

After Tuesday's match, which Egypt lost 21-10 21-13, Elghobashy looked visibly frustrated by the media attention as she told Reuters she had worn a hijab for 10 years and felt completely comfortable in the outfit.

"We were very proud to play in front of such a great crowd," she said through a translator. "I wear a hijab because I am a Muslim but it doesn't stop me feeling a part of this game."

Her partner, Nada Meawad, also wore long sleeves but did not cover her head.

In the bleachers, Brazilian fans were supportive of a country without much beach volleyball tradition.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Beach Volleyball - Women's Preliminary - Beach Volleyball Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016. Doaa Elghobashy (EGY) of Egypt and Laura Giombini (ITA) of Italy compete.   REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes