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Fariba Hashimi has taken the top spot in the Women’s Road Championships of Afghanistan, held in Aigle, Switzerland, while her sister Yulduz Hashimi has claimed the silver in a two-up sprint. Zahra Rezayee secured the bronze.
The 57-kilometre race was organised in Switzerland because of the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. All of the 50 riders taking part are now living in different countries across Europe, as well as in Singapore and Canada.
Last summer, the UCI issued a press release explaining that “due to the consequences of events last August” in Afghanistan “for part of the population, in particular women”, it was no longer possible for the race to take place in the country, hence the decision to hold the race in Switzerland.
August 2021 saw the Taliban return to power for the first time in 20 years, with their religious extremism driving a notable and brutal reversal of any progress towards gender equality made in the previous two decades, including a ban on women doing sports.
The Hashimi sisters, Fariba and Yulduz, broke away on an early climb, opening up a five-minute gap on their two closest rivals, Nooria Mohammadi and Zahra Rezayee with five kilometres to go.
In the sprint to the finish, Fariba outpaced her older sister to win the national title.
“I didn’t think I would win, I thought it would be my sister,” Fariba Hashimi said afterwards.
Her sister described their tactics during the race, “We talked to each other during the race and we worked together which is why we could stay so far ahead.”
The bronze medal went to Rezayee, who moved ahead of Mohammadi coming off a roundabout some 500 metres from the finish.
As all three top finishers are under-23 riders, the top three placings for the elite women and under-23 women categories, decided in the same race were the same.
The first rider in the elite women’s category to finish was Olympian Masomah Ali Zada, who finish in 6th place overall.
“It was more than a competition today,” she said at the finish. “I hope it has sent a message about the rights of women in Afghanistan, and that the world will wake up. I hope the women will get back their rights. We are trying to change things.”
Currently racing for the Team Valcar-Travel & Service Continental squad, after their joint success, according to a UCI press release, the Hashimi sisters immediately received an offer to ride for Israel-Premier Tech Roland in 2023.
“This offer is a big surprise for me, and it’s lovely to share that with my sister,” said Fariba Hashimi.
Congratulations to Fariba Hashimi for her win at the 2022 Women’s Road Championships of Afghanistan, and to all the riders who fought for that jersey ! pic.twitter.com/Xanbhlx3HQOctober 23, 2022
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