Olympics-Egyptian sailor finds time for Ramadan

Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:34pm GMT

By Martyn Herman

LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - Egyptian sailor Ahmed Habash has his own way of dealing with the difficulties faced by the hundreds of Muslim athletes who will fast at the London Olympics. He plans to keep his watch on Egyptian time.

The holy month of Ramadan, one of the most important periods on the Islamic calendar, began on Friday when Muslims around the world fast from dawn until dusk.

That presents an acute problem for athletes and while Habash, like other Egyptian Olympians, has been given license by the High Egyptian Islamic Council not to fast during competition days, he will obey the rules during training at the south coast town of Weymouth, albeit on Egyptian time.

"I can't eat during the day, and I can only eat after sunset, but I choose to fast according to Egyptian time, which makes it easier," Ahmed, who will compete in the men's RS-X fleet, said.

Sunset in Cairo will actually correspond to 1800GMT in Weymouth, meaning Habash will not have to wait quite as long to re-fuel after a hard day on the water.

"During the actual races I am not going to fast, but it does mean when I return home I'll have to re-fast, but only for the five days that I miss," he added.

Algeria's team spokesman Mohammed Azzoug said there were no hard and fast rules for team members.

"It's a very personal thing," he told Reuters. "We just give them the basic information and let them make their decisions."   Continued...

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