A teen athlete claims the U.S. Olympic Committee is trying to stop her from representing Haiti for the Tokyo Olympics.
Taking a dream away: Taekwondo athlete Aliyah Shipman, who has been fighting and winning medals for the Haitian Taekwondo Federation for the last two years, said that U.S. Olympic officials are now questioning her eligibility and background, reported WRLN.
Born to a Haitian father and an Indian mother, the 18-year-old welterweight fighter qualified to represent Haiti last March, after winning the Pan American Olympic Qualifier.
In an interview with NBC, Aliyah said she chose to represent Haiti because she wanted to go back to her roots and "fight for Haiti and give them some representation because they don’t have a lot of representation in sports and especially in Taekwondo."
Aliyah also wants to inspire Muslim girls in her community as there aren’t any others competing at her level in her area.
According to Aliyah, the U.S. Olympic Committee "began to harass Haiti" for allowing her to compete for them. “They claim that I cannot fight for Haiti because I used to fight for the USA,” she wrote in a petition on Change.org.
No violation: The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Taekwondo alleged that Aliyah violated eligibility rules implemented by the World Taekwondo Federation when she switched national teams.
“This is simply not true and has no basis under the governing World Taekwondo rules. Under The World Taekwondo rules — because I have not fought for the US since I was 16 years old, I am eligible to fight for Haiti,” Aliyah wrote in the petition. “It is a well-known fact that the US has accomplished athletes from other countries on their team, so it is ironic that they are attempting to stop me from competing for Haiti.”
Aliyah's mother, Zahra Shipman, and their lawyer argue that since the rule applies only to athletes 17 years and older, Aliyah should be eligible as she was 16 when she last represented the U.S. in a competition.
As the Olympics is set to start on Friday, time is running out for Aliyah, who is now waiting for a hearing from the Court of Arbitration for Sport to resolve her ordeal.
"This whole situation. It’s a nightmare. It's one of the worst things I had to ever go through,” she lamented. “The happiest day of my life is when I qualified for the Olympics, so just having it taken away from me, it's so much for me.”
Featured Image via CBS Miami
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