This has made her something of a cause celèbre in the States since she qualified for the Games in February. She was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2016. Late Show host Stephen Colbert challenged her to a sabre duel in the studio, and unsurprisingly lost 5-0. In fact, famous people have been positively queueing up to battle her: she fenced against Michelle Obama as part of the country’s 100-days-to-go celebrations.
So far, so pleasant. But then you go to the Team USA website and read the first comment underneath a story about her qualification, which reads, “What a disgrace, this is disgusting”, and you remember that this is America in 2016, a country where 55 per cent of people admit to having “an unfavourable opinion” of Islam, and where a man who has made one of his flagship policies banning Muslims from entering the country.
Yes, this is the America of Donald Trump now, or at least it is getting that way, and this is what makes Muhammad’s presence such an irritant to the unenlightened.
“We have people in the presidential race who are providing a platform for hate speech and fearmongering,” Muhammad said in a recent interview. “When I hear people here say they want to throw all Muslims back to their country, I think: well, where am I going to go? This is my home. I feel American to my bones.”