Muslim athletes and coaches on Tuesday expressed diverse opinions on how the ongoing Ramadan, which started on June 6, has been affecting their training activities.
The athletes and coaches expressed their views in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at their various training centres at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State.
While some confessed that the fasting was gradually taking its toll on their training, others said they were expected to fast during Ramadan and had prepared for it.
Kazeem Imam, a weightlifter, said eating the early breakfast called `Sehri’ in Arabic, to some extent still gives some of them the strength to engage in active training.
“To some athletes and coaches, the early morning meal gives them the strength for the short period of the training.
“But it weakens some others thus making them inactive until later in the day.
“Fasting starts by 5.00 a.m., but we are permitted to eat enough food before we start, so the food energises and sustains us within the training period.
“We are used to fasting as a compulsory exercise for real Muslims being one of the five pillars of Islam.
“However, our training continues during Ramadan but at a reduced rate. It is like five programmes slashed to three,’’ he said.
Imam, popularly known as `Afa’, said it was proper for Muslim athletes to keep training while fasting to keep them in shape and be abreast of developments in the sector.
Also, Abiola Alawode, a track and field athlete, said that since the fasting began, he had been resuming late for training because he was always waking-up earlier than before for Sehri.
Alawode said that his coach, who equally is a Muslim, understands the situation and usually pardoned him for his lateness.
He said that he had to adjust his training schedules.
“Anytime the fasting is on, we usually wake up early to eat the Sehri, after which we will return to bed. This makes most athletes and coaches go late for training’’ he said.
Also, Ibrahim Showunmi, an athletics coach, said that athletes’ response to training had reduced since the Ramadan started, adding that they still managed to combine training with fasting.
According to Showunmi, fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim is obliged to perform and this, everybody is aware of.
But we lessen our training rate then since the body was not as strong as during ordinary time, he said.
“With reduction in training rate, some athletes who exhibited weakness are totally exempted for the period.
“We usually start training by 7.30 a.m., but since the fasting started, training now starts at 9.30 a.m., because we have Muslims among the athletes.
“Besides there is no major competition this period,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
It is when Muslims worldwide to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad .