Afghani female cycling champ to join Israeli team

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Afghani female cycling champ to join Israeli team

19-year-old Fariba Hashimi has lived in exile in Italy since the Taliban took control last year.

Fariba Hashimi joining an Israeli cycling team after winning a championship in Switzerland on Monday, October 24, 2022. Photo: Noa Arnon
Fariba Hashimi joining an Israeli cycling team after winning a championship in Switzerland on Monday, October 24, 2022. Photo: Noa Arnon

Afghani cycling champ Fariba Hashimi accepted an offer to join an Israeli cycling team after she won a championship held in exile on Monday. 

Fariba, 19, fled Afghanistan with her sister Yulduz, 22, prior to Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August last year. The two sisters came in first and second in the championship held in Switzerland.

“I did not expect this in my wildest dreams. I will race for all Afghan women!” Fariba said following the announcement that she will join Women’s WorldTour team Israel – Premier Tech Roland.

Her spot on the Israeli team’s roster means Fariba could become the first Afghan to start the Tour de France Femmes. Yulduz is set to join her sister next year with the announcement of a U23 Continental team in the works.

“We are making history here as these two brave women become the first from their country to reach this level of the sport. It is part of our commitment to helping young cyclists from all over the world – from developing nations to war zones. From our Racing for Change initiative in Rwanda to Afghanistan, we are more than a cycling team,” owner of Israel – Premier Tech Roland, Sylvan Adams, said.

Ruben Contreras, the owner and manager of Israel – Premier Tech Roland, said the decision was based on merit: “Both sisters raced for the Italian team Valcar and showed promise. We expect them to progress a lot with us.”

“I can’t lie – it’s so exciting but it’s pressure, too. Honestly, I didn’t think I would get this opportunity to ride for a WorldTour team and a chance to race in the Tour de France. I will take the challenge head-on and race for all the women in Afghanistan,” Fariba said.

She also addressed the dire situation in Afghanistan, where women are violently suppressed by the Taliban.

“My country today is dangerous for many of the women living there. Women are not free to live and thrive as they wish, but if they see me riding in the TDF with the Afghan colours they will see that everything is possible,” she said.

49 out of 400 Afghan women rescued from the Taliban, thanks to Adams, also competed in the race in Switzerland. Adams worked with IsraAID, an international non-governmental humanitarian aid organisation based in Israel, and the Asian Cycling Confederation, to airlift the women to safety.

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