SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Participating for the first time in the Olympic Games, Qatari teenage sprinter Noor al-Malki would be challenging experienced athletes and long fasting hours of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“Everything is okay in terms of training and I hope God is on my side to achieve a new record at the competition,” al-Malki told Reuters.
Visiting London for the first time, Al-Malki said she would not be pressured at all.
“No, it’s fine,” she said.
“Participation is very important and I have to do my best and there is pressure in terms of training because you have to work in order to get where you want to be.”
She joined the Qatari delegation to London 2012 after being chosen in 2008 for Qatar’s first female training squad and now trains for two hours a day under the guidance of Naima Ben Amara, a former Tunisian track athlete.
Al-Malki, along with swimmer Nada Arakji and shooter Bahia Al Hamad, will give Qatar female representation at an Olympic Games for the first time.
Running during Ramadan was an issue she would address.
“I will fast but if it becomes challenging then I will reconsider,” she said.
“I will have to talk to my coach and the nurse has to see me to decide on what to do about Ramadan. We have not discussed it yet.”
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, is expected to start on July 20 through August.
It will coincide with the London Olympics, which is scheduled to start on July 27 to August 12.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
Being proud of her faith, Al-Malki would participate in London Olympics while donning her hijab.
Covering her arms and legs, she is not worried about any possible adverse reaction from fellow athletes or spectators.
“They might say: ‘She’s covered up’ but this is our religion,” she said.
“I am very proud of it and I will not listen to what people say.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Al-Malki said her parents had given her great support.
“We are a family that loves sports and my parents are very happy and very supportive. They have encouraged me to focus on sports,” she said.
“They pray for me, they are the ones pushing me to train. They give me hope, confidence and take my fear away.”
Given her young age and lack of experience, just being in London will be an achievement for al-Malki.
Yet, she has many dreams for the future.
“I finished school last July and I don’t know about university but I want to concentrate on sports after the Olympics,” she said.
“My ambition is that I first want to be...a champion of the Arab world, and then a champion on the world stage.”—www.shafaqna.com/english/