Magnolia Cup winner Khadijah Mellah meets sporting idol and founder of Surviving Hijab Manal Rostom
2019 Magnolia Cup winner and star of a forthcoming ITV documentary Riding a Dream, Khadijah Mellah, had a very special meeting with her hero, Egyptian runner and founder of online community Surviving Hijab, Manal Rostom ahead of the documentary airing later in November.
Khadijah and Manal, two hugely inspiring athletes, are using their sports and remarkable success stories in an effort to break down social stereotypes and empower young women and hijab wearers to follow their aspirations.
Manal, 39, has been an inspirational figure for Khadijah, and surprised the 18-year-old by recently visiting Ebony Horse Club in Brixton where Khadijah learnt to ride. Having only chatted online, the pair went on to speak about Khadijah’s extraordinary journey and fantastic sporting achievement after her racing victory in August this year.
Khadijah, from Peckham, made history as the first British Female Muslim woman to ride in a horserace in the UK when she took part in the Magnolia Cup at the prestigious Qatar Goodwood Festival having only sat on a racehorse a couple of months before.
Just weeks before Khadijah made British sporting history and global headlines with her triumph, she contacted her sporting idol, Manal to share her story with the online community of 670K followers but never imagined sharing it face to face too.
Manal, who is also a mountaineer and Nike Run Club coach said: “It was a special thing for me to meet Khadijah. Her story is the perfect example of how passion and perseverance is everything and I hope that her story will go on to inspire other young women too. I was able to showcase Khadijah on the Surviving Hijab Instagram account and it’s inspiring other girls and giving hijabis the power. When Khadijah connected with me in July I was inspired by her story and invented the hashtag #GiveHijabisThePower which is now being used by so many girls across the globe.”
Speaking of the surprise visit, Khadijah said: “Manal is someone that I really look up to and admire and it was really great to hear from another hijabi woman, there aren’t many women like her out there. The story behind her success really drove me forward.
“A big part of my life has been proving people wrong. I am thrilled that I am part of shift in social understanding of what women can achieve and what they can be good at. There’s quite a stereotype around Muslim girls and them ‘not being able to follow their sporting dreams’. Manal has been a role model to me and likewise, I want to be a role model to anyone who wants to do something that they wouldn’t initially believe was in their comfort zone and allow people to follow their aspirations and dreams.”
Khadijah’s incredible journey from learning to ride at Ebony Horse Club in Brixton to her victory at Goodwood on 1st August has been followed in a documentary, Riding a Dream that will air on ITV in November.