She started wearing the hijab in 2016, the Times reported, and she had worn it before to invitationals, but her coach thinks that officials were looking at the rules more closely because the meet was a higher level of competition, CNN reported. Coach Jerry Flowers said he was alerted to issue before the race, about 3 to 5 minutes before the athletes started running, that Abukaram needed the waiver. If they didn't submit, Flowers was told she could run without it, not run, or if she wore the hijab, she'd be disqualified, according to CNN.
Flowers decided not to tell Abukaram about the issue before the race. She says she understands why her coach made the decision, CNN reported.
After the meet, the waiver was submitted and approved and Abukaram can race in an upcoming regional competition and the group overseeing the events, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, is looking at the uniform rules and could change them to allow religious headwear without the need for a waiver, CNN reported.
During the race in question, Abukaram ran the 5K with her unofficial personal best time of 22:22, according to her coach.