Taekwondo fighters joined jockey Khadijah Mellah, centre, at the cultural awareness event in Manchester ©GB Taekwondo

GB Taekwondo has revealed its determination to break down barriers faced by Muslims in sport after staging a cultural awareness event.

Athletes and staff from GB Taekwondo joined keynote speakers for prayers, conversation and an evening meal, known as iftar, following the breaking of the daily fast at sunset.

The event was hosted by the national governing body in Manchester as Muslims celebrated Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan.

Khadijah Mellah, who in 2019 became the first hijab-wearing jockey to take part in competitive horse racing events in Britain, gave a thought-provoking address.

Her experiences of training and fasting during Ramadan resonated with taekwondo fighters Mohammed Nour and Farzad Mansouri.

Nour is set to compete at the World Taekwondo Championships, scheduled to run from May 29 to June 6 at Azerbaijani capital Baku, while Mansouri was Afghanistan’s flagbearer at the re-arranged 2020 Olympics in Toku and now trains alongside the GB Taekwondo squad.

Former British taekwondo athletes of Muslim faith include double Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammed and two-time Olympian and world silver medallist Mahama Cho.

Hijab-wearing jockey Khadijah Mellah gave a speech at the event run by GB Taekwondo ©GB Taekwondo
Hijab-wearing jockey Khadijah Mellah gave a speech at the event run by GB Taekwondo ©GB Taekwondo

Imam Shafiq of the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester opened the evening at Vermillion Restaurant with prayers and an explanation of his faith.

GB Taekwondo’s chief executive Paul Buxton welcomed guests before a question-and-answer session was held with Mellah.

"This is the first time we have done this but I hope we can make a habit of taking time out to better see each other and the things that are important in our lives," he said.

"One of the values that's not necessarily written on the walls of the National Taekwondo Centre but which I so often see and hear from you is the value of inclusion: the desire to give people a fighting chance, regardless of faith, ethnicity, social, economic, or educational background.

"Whatever your own experience, I hope you recognise the importance of what we are doing and can relate to it.

"Muslim communities are not only under-represented in Olympic and Paralympic sport but are often misrepresented in society.

"I hope we can take some of what we have learnt this and play our small part in changing that.

"We are one of the few Olympic and Paralympic sports that regularly have Muslim athletes and staff of Muslim faith in our team and therefore see an opportunity to play our part in encouraging Muslim communities to engage in sport and trying to break down some of the barriers they face."