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Khayra Riyaz Mohamed from Vancouver amongst the U18 Canada National dragon boat team winning gold medal in Thailand


Khayra Riyaz Mohamed at 16, with the grace of almighty Allah has made the U18 Canada National dragon boat team and competed at the 16th IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships held at Pattaya, Thailand from August 7th to 13th. She is one of 5 paddlers on the U18 Canada team from British Columbia.

Khayra’s parents are very humbled and honored to have this great opportunity. It is a tremendous achievement to represent Canada internationally at this young age. She brings pride to her family, friends and her community.

Especially as a minority in Vancouver, coming from Sri Lankan Muslim immigrant community, she is not only representing Canada but also representing Sri Lankan Muslims from Vancouver and from other parts of the world. She is truly inspirational to all the youth from Muslim minority communities.

Khayra first showed interest in this fast and furious, paddle driven, ancient water sport in grade 8 when her older sister Hamrah was involved in the school dragon boat club team. But as Covid-19 hit, the sport was cancelled just a few months after she joined the club. When it resumed in 2021, she was able to continue. Her hard work, dedication and commitment to this sport is demonstrated by this great achievement.

Shafani Riyaz (Khayra’s mother) says she is “so grateful that the organisers accommodated Khayra’s request to design long sleeved Canada jerseys and long leggings and long shorts for her. I am so proud of Khayra, being clear of her values and seeing it through. I believe she is making a strong statement that Muslim girls can follow their passion while keeping their traditions.”

Her father, Riyaz Siddik, is also very proud, “Alhamdulillah, as a parent I am so happy that she is given this opportunity. This great experience will shape her and help her grow more confident and stronger. I am just grateful to Allah for this blessing, and for all those who have shown love, encouragement and support.”

The president for Sri Lankan Muslim Society of BC, Naseer Bawa has acknowledged her contribution to Canada. “This is the first time a Sri Lankan youth has achieved this status in Canada. We have to support our youth in building the next generation.”

The world championship took place in Pattaya, Thailand from August 7th to 13th. Khayra with her team won two gold medals and one silver medal in 1000m, 500m and 200m respectively, for U18 women’s standard boat championships. Truly a moment of joy and accomplishment for her whole community. There was a welcome celebration organised by her community to greet her at the airport and at her residence when she returned on the 14th of August.

Her national team coach Geoff Johnson had said that this trip to Thailand will be challenging, thus support from family and financial support will be crucial. “Unfortunately this does cost a significant amount of money” said coach Geoff Johnson, “costing the Junior athletes probably a little more than $8000.”

Khayra’s friend Rushdy Athaullah has launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for her trip. As of late August, they raised $2600 of their $7500 goal.

We reach out to everyone to please support Khayra to reach her fundraiser goal.

Khayra expresses her experience at the competition, “I had so much fun. If I was given the opportunity, I would do it again inshallah.”              

The IDBF dragon boat Championships is held every two years. Tryouts usually start about 8 months before. The next World championships is to be held in Germany.