Austrade media release
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Bahrain’s Olympic short distance running champion, Ruqaya Al Ghasara will turn heads today at her first Beijing race (200 metres Tuesday 19/8/08 at 12:21 EST) stepping out in an Australian designed and manufactured body-covering top including the modern Hijab in accordance with Muslim tradition.
Ruqaya Al Ghasara of Bahrain #2013 celebrates winning the Women's 200m during the 15th Asian Games Doha 2006 at the Khalifa Stadium December 11, 2006 in Doha, Qatar.
Ms Al Ghasara, currently ranked number seven in the world, said that wearing the specially designed Hijood Sports Top from Australian company Ahiida had improved her performance.
“It’s great to finally have a high performance outfit that allows me to combine my need for modesty with a design made from breathable, moisture controlled fabric that allows freedom of movement and flexibility,” said Ms Al Ghasara.
“It’s definitely helped me to improve my times being able to wear something so comfortable and I’m sure it will help me to give my best performance at Beijing.
“I hope that my wearing the Hijood Sports Top will inspire other women to see that modesty or religious beliefs don’t have to be a barrier to participating in competitive sports.”
Ahiida Managing Director, Aheda Zanetti, said that although this outfit had been custom made for Ms Al Ghasara her company had been deluged with international orders from women wanting conservative sporting outfits since its inception five years ago.
“Since Ahiida first came to media attention with our special Burqini Swimsuit for Aussie Muslim lifesavers, we have had significant interest in our unique conservative sportswear,” said Ms Zanetti.
“Our sportswear supports women who want, for whatever reason, to wear things that are modestly cut and have useful functions like keeping their hair out of their eyes whilst enjoying an active sporty lifestyle.
“We are thrilled to be associated with Ruqaya who is a passionate and talented sportswoman and a great role model.
Ms Zanetti said that working with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) had helped her to access many international markets.
“Austrade had helped me to be in places that I couldn’t get to and to speak on my behalf internationally,” she said.
Austrade’s Chief Economist, Tim Harcourt said that Ahiida was indicative of Australia’s unique business capability in servicing big sporting events.
“As a nation of sports fans, you’d expect Australia to know something about this sector. And fortunately, it’s true!,” said Mr Harcourt.
“Since putting on the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Australia has developed a world class reputation for sports infrastructure, sports marketing and merchandising as well as sports medicine and sports-related technology.
“Holding sporting events themselves has also helped Australian exporters in other sectors. For example Cleanevent which provided cleaning services to Sydney picked up the Athens contract, architects like PTW and Woodheads are helping to design architecture in Beijing in the Olympic precinct and elsewhere and Biograde are using the Olympics to showcase their environmental technologies.
“Since the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Australia has forged over $1.7 billion in trade and investment deals via sports related networking. It’s become part of our national brand and its shows that the sport exports do have lasting economic benefit.”
Austrade will harness the excitement and energy of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to showcase Australia in China. More than 3000 Australian and Chinese businesspeople are expected to attend events at Business Club Australia. Business Club Australia is the official business program for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and will use the resources of Austrade’s Chinese network of 15 offices to bring together Australians and key Chinese officials and businesspeople. Over 40 Australian companies have won more than 50 Beijing Games related contracts, many with Austrade assistance.
Bahrain’s Olympic team are sponsored by Nike. As part of Ms Al Ghasara’s team contract she competes in Nike shoes and National Olympic Committee sleeveless Vest.