Shirin Gerami became the first Iranian woman to compete in the Triathlon World Championships on Sunday, even if she needed a tent to protect her modesty.
Many Iranian women have previously been denied permission to race in triathlons abroad or swim in international events, but Gerami took part in the 1,500m swim, a 40km bike race and 10km run wearing full Islamic dress after the Iranian Sports Ministry issued the required paperwork fewer than 24 hours before the final.
To complete the triathlon, the 24-year-old required specific conditions that complied with her desire to race covered. She was assisted in entering and exiting the water covered, as well as provided a changing tent in transition, in which she could change from her wetsuit to appropriate bike and run gear.
“I had a tent,” said Gerami, who took part in the 25 to 29 age group event. “I went into the tent, got my wetsuit off and my clothes to run on. I was a bit slow, so I need to practice more.”
When asked what Gerami thought the historic moment meant for Iranians, she said: “I think what I was testing was when there’s a will there’s a way, and I really wanted to believe in that.”
“I didn’t get a very good time, so what I hope it means is everyone supports me and next time I get to the podium,” she said. “It’s not only for Iranians, but for anyone that wants to race in clothes that cover, to support them.”
“Today was a historic day for Iran, a historic day for the ITU [International Triathlon Union] and certainly a historic day for Shirin,” ITU president Marisol Casado said. “We are delighted she was able to compete. I hope her performance leads to more Iranian women competing in triathlon, as Shirin showed that triathlon truly is a sport that everyone can do, regardless of age or gender.”