Dalilah Muhammad: How the Olympic champion observes Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic

Dalilah Muhammad: How the Olympic champion observes Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic
The holy places and the mosques are closed, the relatives are separated from each other. Many traditions and routines had to be changed due to a virus who changed the world.

“My family is in New York and New York has been hit very hard. Just being away from them has been a bit difficult.

“Both of my parents are fine. My sister also lives in New York and she goes well with her family. It is good to know that they are fine, but I really wish I could take this time to see all the people. “

At the 2016 Olympic Games, Muhammad won gold in the 400 meter hurdles on a rainy night in Rio de Janeiro. Her victory made her one of the two American muslim women to win medals at the Games (fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad won a bronze medal). Last year Muhammad broke it own world record by winning the world title in the 400m hurdles in Doha.

During the month of Ramadan – which began this year on the evening of April 23 – Muslims abstain from food and water during the day, a practice that is considered one of the five pillars of Islam . They can eat before sunrise and break their fast every day after dusk.

With athletics events canceled around the world, these unusual times have at least given Muhammad, 30, a chance to fast for the whole month, which she normally couldn’t do in competition.

“I definitely use this opportunity to fast more than usual,” she said. “I always try to fast on certain days of the season. Honestly, it is extremely difficult for me to train as hard as I do and quickly.

“I am never able to do the 30 days or the full month and this time I made some kind of promise to really do it. I can do it now that my training is not as intense. there are no major championships to prepare for. “

At this time of year, daylight can last more than 13 hours in Los Angeles, where New Yorker Muhammad lives. So, fasting is not an easy task and, of course, there are desires to overcome and traditions to keep.

“Growing up, my father always broke his fast on dates and being just at home in California, I’m just kind of keeping that tradition,” she said.

“I’ve been craving sweets right now, and it’s something I never really craved. I’m not like a big sweet person, but for some reason, even last night [April 27] I wanted a cinnamon bun, I felt like I was crossing my fingers so that Cinnabon was open. Of course not. So really want candy; had some Dunkin Donuts last night. “

Dalilah’s father, Askia, is an imam and made sure that the Muhammad family stayed in touch throughout the crisis.

“My dad suggested we have to do it once a week. I don’t think we did this once a week, but we try to take the time to make Zoom calls. You just have to see the face of each one. I have certainly been FaceTiming a lot. “

Muhammad poses for a portrait during the filming of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the American team on November 19, 2019.

Potential for Olympic “grief”

In March, it was announced that the Tokyo Olympics, which were originally scheduled to take place this summer, postponed to 2021 “to protect the health of athletes, all those involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”

For Muhammad, plans to defend the title she won four years ago have been put on hold.

“I understood the decision to hold it in 2021, of course, I absolutely agree,” she said.

“But, for me personally, it was a little disappointing. As athletes, our life is planned around these four years and we know that every four years are going to be Olympic Games and we plan our training around that. and really our lives, our personal lives. “

Muhammad pictured on his way to the Rio 2016 gold medal.
Since the announcement of the initial postponement, the president of the Tokyo 2020 Games, Yoshiro Mori, has indicated that if the pandemic continues, the Olympic Games could be canceled.

“It would be really heartbreaking,” said Muhammad. “We sacrifice so much for the Olympics and just to represent our country, and we love what we do.

“I am striving for a medal at the Olympics and I would be the defending champion, Olympic champion, and that has certainly been disheartening. We will just have to see how it goes.”

Mix dogs

With the tracks closed, Muhammad trained on the lawns of Northridge, Los Angeles. After initial training alone, she has now returned to working with her trainers while maintaining a social distance from members of the public – although there are dogs to navigate.

Mohammed said, “There are a lot of dogs in the park right now, a lot of people are walking their dogs and dogs don’t do that [social distancing]!

“Honestly, I love to run again for fun. I think we focus so much on the competition aspect and, of course, it’s important to be a professional athlete, but I really like going out and running. “

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The reigning World Athlete of the Year has also spent time locked out participating in online challenges.
She helped launch an indoor relay challenge on her Instagram account with other Nike-sponsored sports stars, including wide NFL receiver Odell Beckham Jr., while fellow American Hurdler Queen Harrison involved him in a Do not rush, which depicts people who switch from everyday clothes to more glamorous clothes in the blink of an eye.

“It was just a way for us to express ourselves in a way. Wear nice clothes, or different clothes, which we normally wear when we train, so it was fun,” she said.

Although a challenge she has not met is get dressed to take out the trash.

“No, I’m not one of them, not yet. Maybe sometimes at the grocery store, but that’s it,” she said.


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