When Shirin Gerami lined up at the start line of the 2013 ITU World Championships to represent her home country of Iran, it was the culmination of six months of intense work behind the scenes to persuade the Iran Triathlon Federation to grant her permission to represent them. Six months of meetings, red tape, custom kit designs (as the strict Islamic dress code was the major factor in their decision), factory visits and trips to Iran, to enable Shirin to become the first female triathlete to represent Iran.
Although she made history that day once she had received the go-ahead to represent Iran, the work didn’t end there. Shirin, whose journey in triathlon began whilst at university in Durham, has continued to blaze a trail and demonstrate that a modest dress code is not a barrier to sports participation. In 2016, Shirin toed the line at the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, completing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run wearing a hijab and head-to-toe kit.
In this Q&A we chat about her experiences in triathlon and the behind-the-scenes work that led to her becoming the first woman to represent Iran in triathlon.