A 16-year-old high school runner was disqualified from a 5k race for wearing a hijab: ‘I was sobbing … it broke my heart’

"It broke my heart."

Those were the words of the 16-year-old high school runner Noor Alexandria Abukaram after she was disqualified from a 5k race for wearing her hijab, according to CNN.

Abukaram, who attends private Ohio school Sylvania Northview, had just finished an event on Saturday, October 19 at an affiliate Collegium when she realized her name or time wasn't on the board.

She thought it was a mistake but after her friends clarified what had happened, the teenager, who had run a personal best on the day of 22 minutes 22 seconds, said she was reduced to tears.

"I was sobbing," Abukaram said. "I couldn't even explain how difficult it was to explain to my father that I got disqualified for my hijab. It was so hard for me because my parents have been my No. 1 supporters when it comes to my hijab."

She added: "It was like your worst nightmare to have to compete and then find out that you got disqualified and it's because of something that you love. Why should you have to sacrifice your religion and a part of who you are to run, to do another thing that you're very passionate about?"

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Tim Stried, spokesman for The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA), said that Abukaram was disqualified from the race as she did not obtain a waiver to wear her religious headdress.

"Cross country runners may participate in competitions with religious headwear, provided the runner has obtained a waiver from the OHSAA and submitted it to the head official before the race, since it is a change to the OHSAA uniform regulations," Stried told CNN.

"The official was simply enforcing this rule since a waiver had not been submitted."

Since her disqualification, Abukaram has now had a waiver letter approved, and will be able to compete without question in future events, starting this weekend.

"I feel happy that I'm racing on Saturday and my time is going to count, I'm happy to follow the rules," she said. "But I don't think that the whole letter thing and having to inform people that I'm coming is proper or respectful to myself."

Business Insider contacted the OHSAA for comment but is yet to receive a reply.

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