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Ray Bassil: Lebanese Olympian on why shooting is a woman’s sport

Here's how Lebanese Olympian and trapshooting champion Ray Bassil plans to empower young female athletes in the Middle East.

Trapshooting champion, Ray Bassil was recently named United Nations Development Program goodwill ambassador for youth and gender. 

What do we know about this Lebanese Olympian?

Encouraged by her athletic father, Bassil got into the male-dominated sport of trapshooting when she was just eight years old, From then to now, the 29-year-old has won an ISSF World Cup event and the gold medal at the 2015 Arab Shooting Championship.

She has also represented Lebanon twice at the Olympic Games; first in 2012 in London, and again at the most recent games in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished 14th.

In 2015, she won the gold medal at the Arab Shooting Championship in Morocco. In 2016, she won the gold medal at the ISSF World Cup that was held in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Bassil started competing professionally at the young age of 16, even before she chose her vocation in school. She went on to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Food & Beverage Management at NDU, a highly ranked Lebanese university. Even so, Bassil couldn’t turn her back on her favorite sport.

She was the first woman to win three consecutive World Cup Championship medals; one gold and two silver in 2016.

Now, Bassil’s sights are set on winning the Olympic medal for Lebanon in the Tokyo 2020 games.

Last week, Bassil was singled out for her contributions to the sport by the UNDP. As a trailblazer for other aspiring Arab female athletes, Bassil has been appointed a goodwill ambassador. “It’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to work with the UNDP. Thank you,” Bassil tweeted after a ceremony held in the presence of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri and United Nations officials.

“This means I have more responsibility toward my community and to Lebanon,” she told Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star, prior to her latest tournament in Morocco. “This pushes me to do more and accomplish more.”

It’s this attitude of wanting to do more that is driving Bassil in her new role. The Grand Prix International Women’s Competition is now in full swing, with the theme of empowering women to participate in traditionally male-dominated sports.

“I will be taking part in events promoting (female empowerment) as well as looking to find projects for schools, universities and underprivileged areas,” she told The Daily Star.

Lebanon’s Olympian is also aiming to find funding to support young people to pursue their passions. “Unfortunately, (Lebanon) doesn’t provide much for youth with potential and talent, I want to fundraise for this (group of young people).”

Bassil’s next tournament is the shooting world cup finals in New Delhi, India later in October. Only the world’s top 12 elite athletes are invited to the finals, but as the third-ranked shooter in the world, Bassil may be in good stead.

Follow her journey on social media: @RayJBassil on Twitter, @RayJBassil on Instagram.

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