Dream Big: Meet the First Female Biker in the History of Iran’s Motor Sports

© AP Photo/ Vahid Salemi
Get short URL

Behnaz Shafiei has become a pioneer in Iranian motor sport as she recently managed to make a 15-meter jump on a racetrack near Tehran. However, her jump is far greater than that because it was just a year ago that Iranian women were prohibited from riding motorbikes.

Behnaz, 27, could only dream about taking part in a motor sports competition and her dream was enough to drive her to success. She has become a beacon of hope for all women in Iran who aim to excel in sports that are seen generally to be male-dominated.

Although her love for riding started much earlier, it was four years ago that Behnaz bought her own motorbike. Earlier, she used to borrow her brother's and ride stealthily.

​Women in Iran are still prohibited from riding bikes in public, but last year authorities allowed women to train in separately designated bike tracks situated not far from Tehran.

“If I don’t ride my bike for two days, I feel sick. Just the very thought that I may lose it terrifies me,” the racer told Sputnik Persian.

Behnaz has been riding for the past 15 years and trains six days a week. She is one of only six female racers who have gained access to amateur tracks in Iran.

​So far, two female competitions have taken place in Iran, one of which was won by Behnaz.

There was also an organized master class, which was attended by 50 women. The event was attended by women from all over the province, including a 60-year-old who attended the lesson with her 40-year-old daughter.

​Behnaz’s love for riding started when she was 15-years-old. For the first time in her life she saw a woman on a motorcycle in a small village near Zanjan.

“I was very surprised and asked if women could ride a motorcycle. She showed me how it's done and I really enjoyed it,” the racer recalled.

Over time her passion for motorbikes only intensified and she decided to devote herself entirely to the motorsport. Behnaz was resolute in her ambition and she began to go to the Ministry of Sports until she received permission to train legally.