I read about Iraqi sprinter Dana Abdul-Razzaq (Hussain) a few months ago. Not only is she the only Olympic athlete actually training in Iraq, she is or would have been the first woman representing Iraq in the Olympics.
In an interview with NPR All Things Considered (May 1st) she said:
"I'm very ambitious, despite all the challenges I face in the streets," she says. "If the street is blocked or there's shooting, I'll take a different road, because I want to reach new goals and move forward."Unfortunately, she will not have the chance to reach new goals or fulfill her dream.
Because the Iraqi government for some reason disbanded their Olympic Committee, which is a no no, the IOC has banned Dana and the other first-time Olympians—two rowers, a disc thrower, and a judoka—from competing in Beijing.
Her reaction broke my heart:
"She hasn't stopped [crying]. It's like finding out that a close relative has died," said her coach, Yousif Abdul Rahman.I get it that the IOC needs to have rules that all countries abide by and they need to do what they need to do. But this sucks and is NOT in the spirit of the Olympics and the individual athlete's competition and personal excellence.
Abdul Rahman attempted to console Hussain by assuring her that she could compete in the 2012 Olympics.
"In this horrible situation," she said, "who can say I'll even be alive in 2012?"
I truly believe that the IOC should have some way to allow individual, un-sponsored athletes to compete while still sanctioning or penalizing the country.
Dana isn't sponsored by the government, she trains on her own, and is financing her own way. In an interview with Islam Online she says:
"All of us come from poor families and cannot afford high expenses," she said.I adore the Olympics. I especially love watching the athletes from small countries competing even when some don't have a chance of winning against the sports machines of large countries. Their stories of courage, endurance, and over coming obstacles that we can't even imagine, inspire me, reminds me of our shared human consciousness and our world community.
"The government isn’t investing in us," she fumed.
"They are much worried about political issues and forgot that sport also is a good way to make people open their minds and join forces," stressed the sprinter.
This young woman has avoided sniper fire, bombs, and other life-threatening dangers, just to have the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. Dana Abdul-Razzaq is the highest example of what Olympic competition is all about.
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." (part of the Olympic Creed)
Well she has struggled horribly and she has fought fucking phenomenally:
"But now this dream could end any time if for one second I lose my concentration and a bullet comes across my body, fired by groups that don't really understand the importance of this."And now that she has overcome her "struggles" and now that she has SURVIVED! Some bureaucratic bullshit has endedr her dream.
Razzaq has been reluctant to talk to the media after a couple of recent interviews with international newspapers resulted in increased threats to her.
Iraqi athletes, especially women, have increasingly been targeted by militant groups.
She is a living casualty of this war. My heart is breaking for her.
As she said, "If I leave this sport, I think life will stop."
I hate this!
[Picture from CNN.]