Tina Rahimi’s Commonwealth Games have ended with a bronze medal, the respect of boxing and a humble feeling that her pioneering story has resonated throughout the sports world.
The trailblazing Muslim boxer from Sydney bowed out in her featherweight semi-final on Saturday night, perhaps a bit too raw to get the better of more polished Kenyan Elizabeth Oshoba.
But she lost nothing in another fearless display, which even earned her the verdict on one of the five judges’ cards.
She felt she might even have under-performed in the last round, pushing too hard because she so badly wanted to win.
But once she’d got over the crushing disappointment, the 26-year-old fighter reflected on an “incredible” headguard-and-hajib breakthrough in Birmingham which has transformed her life.
“It’s a little bit humbling. I’m just a normal person, so to get all this attention – random media from overseas have been contacting me over the past few days – it’s been really overwhelming,” she said.
“I’ve just had to leave them on hold so I could concentrate on the fights but it’s been great. We’ll see what the future holds.”
Those media outlets wanted to know all about the former make-up artist who took up the sport effectively as a form of boxercise, but has rapidly risen through the ranks to show real international promise.
Oshoba has been an African Games medalist but found Rahimi difficult to handle, particularly in a second round when she was really on top.
Rahimi has been so buoyed by the experience at her first major event that she’s now set her eyes on the Olympics.
“It’s been an amazing experience, meeting new people, new faces – the Australian team have been so supportive to me,” she said.
“I’m going to try for the Olympics now, I just feel so comfortable being around everyone here.”
Some promoters of professional fighters are reportedly interested in signing her up too.
“I don’t know,” she said. “My main goal is Paris. We’ll see how it goes but it’s really hard to do the pros and think about the Olympics from there.”
She has two tasks left in Birmingham – to collect her medal and to cheer on her “go-to” friend Kaye Scott on Sunday in the light-middleweight final.
But asked what’s made her most proud in Birmingham, she explains: “It’s been to inspire everyone around the world, so they can look at me and think, ‘oh wow she’s doing something we wouldn’t have the guts to do’.
“It makes me feel better that I’m making everyone happy as they look at me and think, ‘yeah, she’s done something great’.”