Maryam Talaee, an actress and champion of Iranian motorcycling from the Touring & Automobile Club of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the International Federative Association of Historic Automobile Clubs (FIVA), was the only Iranian participant for the first time in the last hundred years, who took part in the FIVA World Rally 2023.
This female Iranian motorcyclist, along with experienced and veteran motorcyclists of the world, managed to claim the title of the best motorcyclist of this edition of the FIVA world rally and raised Iran’s flag.
This course of rally was held for four days on the special routes of Austria, known as “T.T. Route”, with 120 participants, including 5 female motorcyclists from 17 countries across the world, including Norway, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, France, Canada, England, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Iran.
The constant goal of the rally, which is a hundred years old and is held every year in one of the countries in the world, is to create unity, solidarity and acquaintance of nations and people from different parts of the world.
Despite the rainy and slippery track, I managed to become the top motorcyclist of the 2023 Austrian Rally
About this edition of the competitions and her participation, Maryam Talaee says, “Every year, the best driver is chosen in this rally, and this year I managed to win this position and raised the flag of Iran in this competition. Even though it was raining heavily, and the track had become extremely dangerous and slippery and there were some very terrible accidents, I continued on my way.
Driving in the rain, especially European rains, is very difficult. It is a bad challenge. It involves high risks. But as I had driven in Africa in the rain for 4 months, I was somehow determined I could do it, and I told myself ‘I’m good to go.’ Otherwise, maybe I would have said no and thought to myself ‘I’ve rented my bike, I have to leave it, and it isn’t worth it.’ But I continued and succeeded.”
For the organizers of the race, the presence of an Iranian woman riding a motorbike was interesting
Regarding her participation in the competition, Maryam Talaee said, “The competition was great. Because everyone who was there was really surprised. They could not believe that I was there. When they heard the word ‘Iran’ and found out that I participated in competitions from Iran, they kept asking me questions and were shocked if such a thing had really happened. They looked at us to see how many of us were there, and then they asked, ‘Are you a motorcyclist?’ And I said, ‘Yes! I drive a bike.’”
During the four days of the rally, it was very interesting for the organizers that not only had an Iranian woman participated in the rally, but also she was riding and continued on her way neck and neck with the men who had been participating in the rally for years and had become experienced.
In fact, as the first Iranian who had participated in the 2023 FIVA World Rally for the first time in the past hundred years, I was introduced as the best motorcyclist of the year.”
Women’s motorcycling in Iran
Maryam Talaee had previously told Tehran-based Etemad newspaper during her participation in the recent rally, “They would not believe my presence at all, because this field has always been controlled in Iran. I’ve acted in 5 series and rode a motorcycle in them and all 5 were censored. There were series that were edited out after filming and production. When the situation in our own country is like this, you can see how foreigners view this issue. My presence was very interesting for them.”
Talaee lived in Canada for 25 years and started riding motorcycles in 2008.
She further says:
“I have been in Iran since the year we launched women’s motorcycling race. Later on, some competitions were held and many women entered this field. I have held many positions so far.
In the past few years in a row, we scheduled programs for riders to increase the number of athletes based on the positions I held. Even now, after all these years, women’s motorcycling is finding its place.
It was very slow during the first years, because of the confrontation by all those who are in charge. These people were up in arms against this field one way or another. The parliament would say yes and another institution would say no! There are still too many fronts.
During this period, the only thing that happened was women’s motorcycling became popular in the public eye and among people in society. The first days when we were riding motorcycles, it was very strange for everyone. But now women are active in cities, and at least no one gets surprised to see a woman riding a Vespa motorcycle on the street.”
The reflection of Maryam Talaee’s participation in the 2023 Austria Rally in the media
In response to Etemad newspaper’s question about the foreign media coverage of her participation, Maryam Talaee says, “Two or three German TV stations interviewed me. Several domestic news agencies were also there to cover it. Iranian news agencies were also present abroad. I think more than 50 news agencies covered the relevant news. They keep sending it to me. Two things were very important for them. One was that a woman from Iran had shown up in the competition, and the other one was about my bike. What’s more, they looked at this issue very delicately and knew what restrictions were there.”