From Associated Press
DOHA, Qatar (AP) When Qatari sprinter Noor al-Malki makes her debut at the London Olympics, she will not be among those contending for a medal. Breaking her own national record in the 100 meters will be enough of a prize.
But even this modest goal presents a challenge.
The 17-year-old, whose oil-and-gas rich country is sending women to the Olympics for the first time, knows she will need all of her energy and strength to run a fast race. To do that, however, might require her to break the fast during Ramadan.
Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during the 30-day holy month, which begins on July 20 and overlaps with the Olympics. But al-Malki and the 3,500 otherMuslim athletes expected to compete in London may look to ancient Islamic tenets that allow exemptions – for travelers, the sick and others – out of concern that not eating or drinking, even water, throughout the day could put them at a competitive disadvantage.
“It will be difficult but it is Ramadan. You have to respect Ramadan,” al-Malki said. “But I want to make a new national record. If there is a problem with that, I will not make Ramadan.”
While the issue is getting greater attention this Olympic year, balancing faith and sports is nothing new for athletes. Orthodox Jews observe the Sabbath between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday and some won’t compete during those hours, while some Christians won’t compete on a Sunday.