From Where I Sit Judith Lynch (Melbourne) Judith's previous articles Judith's website
2012 Olympics are over and across the world the medal winners are being feted in
bursts of national fervour. But not all Olympic champions stand on the podium.
Some finish last. Like Tahmina Kohistani. Her Olympic
run in the women’s 100 metres was eight years in the making and lasted a
fraction over fourteen seconds. She came last.
may have seen Tahmina’s picture on the TV coverage, or read about her in the
morning paper - the lone woman in the small Olympic team from Afghanistan, the
woman who ran her race in a hijab and modest neck to ankle running gear .
She’s 23, a university student and one gutsy young woman. It wasn’t injury
or lack of funding that made the eight year journey to London so difficult but
the ever present Taliban influence in a country where gender decides what is
appropriate. Education and sport are definitely off the radar if you are a
loved to run. Quite early in her life she decided that she wanted to run in the
Olympics. Day in and day out she trained, out in the open, never really getting
used to the hissing, jeers and insults from the watching men, sometimes more
than a hundred of them. Even when she did get to London and ran her one race,
she was mostly ignored by the media.
the eyes of the sporting world Tahmina is a loser. In my eyes and those of
Afghan women she is a role model whose personal dream of running in London has
broadened into the possibility of opening a sports academy in Kabul, somewhere
for young Afghan women to take up sport in a supportive environment.
an interview aired on Radio Australia she said, ''I'm coming here to do
something for the women of Afghanistan who cannot get out from their houses.
They have family problems; they have society exclusion problems. Because of that
they can't do these things that they hoped. But I'm really happy to do something
for those women. I know that whenever I'm going to the opening ceremony,
whenever I have compete on that day, there are a lot of Afghan girls and women
that they are watching me, and they hope that one day they shall be in the place
of me. And I am going to open a new way for the women of Afghanistan.''
For me Tahmina’s story
is both moving and challenging. Moving, because the
courage shown by a very young woman facing up to what seems to be unbeatable
odds touches into my own wimpyness in the face of opposition
and challenging because I see
her as something like a prophet in a hijab, and that’s a bit outside my
Christian comfort zone. Prophets show us a different way, they challenge our
thoughtless perceptions and comfortable passivity.
invite us to grasp our Spirit inspired beliefs and dreams and run with them.
Just this week I read of a woman who posted
message on the Target website complaining about the range of
clothing available for girls 7 to 14 that she said “that makes them
look like tramps”. A lone voice saying something that others may have thought
but didn’t question on a public domain. Australian Dick Smith may be seen as a
somewhat eccentric figure but this week he published a magazine called A
Magazine of Forbidden Ideas challenging practices in our society that take away
the right of all people to what is a just and equitable lifestyle. Prophetic
Boston Theologian Peter Phan describes Jesus as the “border-crosser par
excellence”. I am reminded of
another headscarf wearing woman from an Eastern country, the Syro-Phoenician
woman highlighted in Mark’s Gospel (7:24-39). An ordinary mum, she
challenged what she believed was an injustice being done to her daughter
and Jesus’ crossed not only a geographic border but he moved into a deeper
understanding of his own ministry.
the challenge prophetic figures like Tahmina, Dick Smith and that those two
unknown mothers throw us.