ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A professional female Kurdish bodybuilder who is set to compete in an Olympia qualifier later this year says she hopes to represent Kurdistan on the international stage.
Arian Saaedi, born in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat), spoke to Kurdistan 24 about her career in bodybuilding, her past achievements, as well as her upcoming competitions.
Saaedi began her professional bodybuilding career in 2017 in the United States where she went on to win first-place in the Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders (OCB) pro-bikini category.
She is currently ranked number one in the US for the OCB’s natural bodybuilding pro-bikini category and number three in the world in the same category.
Saaedi told Kurdistan 24 that pursuing her career in bodybuilding while in Rojhilat was challenging because of the Iranian government’s strict laws, especially against women.
“I’m so happy that I’m here and that I have the opportunity to compete in bodybuilding or fitness competitions,” she said. “As a woman from the Middle East, back [in] my country, I don’t have the opportunity to compete because of…all those restrictions on women.”
Saaedi said she wishes to one day “compete in Kurdistan for Kurdistan,” especially with her upcoming Olympia qualifier in July, the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world.
If she places first in the qualifier, she will have the opportunity to compete on the international stage as the first ever female Kurdish bodybuilder to do so.
During her interview with Kurdistan 24, the Kurdish athlete recalled her previous OCB competition where she wore a sweater that read “Biji Peshmerga, Biji Kurdistan.”
“Everyone was asking me, ‘What’s Peshmerga? What does that mean?’ And I explained [to] them, and they were really excited about it,” Saeedi said.
“It was so [exciting] because people were supporting me.”
(Kurdistan 24 team in Washington, DC conducted the interview)