Meet an Olympian: Tahmina Kohistani

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Today Host Meredith Vieira, onscreen: You know, these games are all about firsts, and, this year, it's all about the women. For the first time ever, all 205 countries competing in these games are sending female athletes, and, on the homefront, on Team USA a first as well: Women athletes at these games outnumber the men. The London Olympics may just be the girls' games of 2012.

Vieira, in voiceover, over Sports Illustrated cover featuring the USA women's gymnastics team: The girls of the London Games have already made history.

Alan Ashley, USOC Spokesperson, onscreen: We have 269 women and 261 men on the team, and, as you can see, that really represents a strong group of women.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of female Olympians training: And on the global stage, Middle Eastern countries Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia will send female Olympians to London. For the first time in history, every country competing in the Olympics will send women. Twenty-two-year-old Tahmina Kohistani is a sprinter from Afghanistan.

Vieira, walking alongside Kohistani: Can you believe that you're here?

Kohistani: No. [laughs]

Vieira: [laughs] When do you think it's going to sink in?

Kohistani: Sometimes I'm—I think that it's like a dream. But I'm here! [smiles]

Vieira: You're here!

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of performers: I met up with Kohistani at the Olympic village, where performers welcome athletes to the games. She understands this is a special time, and she recognizes her own place in history.

Vieira, now sitting down with Kohistani: Here you are at the Olympics, the only woman on your team—

Kohistani: Yeah.

Vieira: —only the third woman ever from Afghanistan [Kohistani nods] to compete in the Olympics, but it has been a hard road for you to get here, hasn't it?

Kohistani: Yeah, yeah. It was very hard and very difficult for me. There's a lot of people that they're supporting me, but there's also lots of people that they don't like me, and they just hate me.

Vieira: What do they say?

Kohistani: Sometimes they will saying that I'm not a good girl, because I'm doing sports. And they'll thinking that I'm not a good Muslim—like these ideas they have about me.

Vieira: Are you seen as less of a woman than those around you because of the fact you're in sports?

Kohistani: There's a lot of Afghan women that, that, they don't accept me and my—my rules, my way. They are thinking that I'm wrong, but I am not wrong. [smiles]

Vieiea: So it's not just the men; it's the women, too.

Kohistani: Yeah, yeah.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of Kohistani walking, then photographs of her parents: She says her strength comes from her family. At every step, her parents encouraged her Olympic-sized dreams.

Kohistani, sitting down with Vieira: In my family, they don't have any problem with my sports, all the time. They just, ah, they are supporting me. I can say that the most supporter of my life is my father, all the time. My father told me that, "One day you will achieve your goals. Don't stop." And that was the reason for me that I am here.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video and stills of Kohistani: Tahmina is a Muslim and will compete in the Olympics in a traditional headscarf and Islamic uniform.

Vieira, sitting down with Kohistani: Do you feel in any way that that will limit you as a sprinter?

Kohistani: No. I never think that it's just disturbing me during the competition. I don't think like this.

Vieira: What do you think the likelihood is that you will medal?

Kohistani: It's very difficult to win medal from Olympic Games. [smiles] It's just like a dream! But, if I got the medal, I think that I will start a new way for the gals, for the women, of Afghanistan—know that I was right and on that time they will believe theirself that they can do everything that they want.

Vieira, in voiceover, over video of Kohistani training: With hopes for the future and a fierce determination to make a difference, Tahmina will compete in the 100 meters for Afghanistan. I asked her how to say "good luck" in her home language, Persian.

Kohistani: You can say me "movaffagh baashi."

Vieira: Movaffagh baashi?

Kohistani: Yeah. It means "good luck." [smiles]

Vieira: Movaffagh baashi.

Kohistani: Thank you!

Vieira: It's a pleasure! [they hug]

Vieira, at camera: Tahmina is a part of these historic games that they are calling the Year of the Woman. I mentioned that she is going to run the 100 meters; she is a long shot, but you never know—she has a sign in her room that she keeps about that says, "Dreams can come true." And she's looked at that every day, especially when she was under so much pressure from others not to compete.

Matt Lauer: She is going to inspire a lot of people by being here.

Vieira: She sure is.
[H/T to Shaker Hillary.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus