Champion of the month: Maryam Amatullah
Published 15 May 2012
Maryam Amatullah is certainly no stranger to overcoming hurdles. Her recent triumph at the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation ambassador awards for Volunteer of the Year goes to show that no matter what difficulties are faced, with a heap of cycling passion and a sprinkle of determination, you can conquer anything.
After a long break from riding a bike, Maryam, 40 (above, left), returned to the saddle three years ago after wanting to encourage her daughter to enjoy the fun and fresh air of a bike ride in and around Leicester. However, Maryam felt, in her words, ‘odd’ riding a bike wearing the hijab (Islamic head-covering). This started her on her incredible journey of promoting bike rides to be inclusive to all women.
‘I joined Breeze because I wanted to help and support more women to ride bikes – especially women from ethnic minorities. It’s a great way to bring women together for cycling – we’re all part of a huge team with a great purpose. Since I've been working with and training women I no longer feel 'odd' wearing the hijab – instead I see myself as a role model.’
Currently, three times more men than women ride bikes, and Breeze is changing this by creating new opportunities with bike rides, training and support that’s just for women.
Maryam said: ‘I enjoy the company, environment, and enthusiasm of cycling together – it really helps motivation. There’s no competition, we’re all there to help and support each other.’
Since Maryam started assisting and organising her own Breeze bike rides and spending her free time getting women riding on a one-on-one basis, she has made a real impact on her local area.
Natalie Justice, Women's Network Project Manager congratulated Maryam on her achievement: ‘We’re absolutely delighted for Maryam as she has been a tremendous support in getting more local women from Leicester on their bikes. It’s our Breeze champions like Maryam who are really helping close the cycling gap and this award is thoroughly deserved. ‘
Maryam says: ‘I'm extremely happy with the award, and would like to share it with all women who've faced difficulties and barriers to their participation in sport. I feel even more determined to work harder!’
If you’ve been inspired by Maryam’s story, find out more about becoming a Breeze champion.