LAGOS – Abstaining from food and water for long hours, Nigeria Muslim athletes and coaches have differed on how fasting was affecting their performance, with many of them choosing to observe the holy month of Ramadan.
“To some athletes and coaches, the early morning meal gives them the strength for the short period of the training,” Kazeem Imam, a weightlifter, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, June 14.
“But it weakens some others thus making them inactive until later in the day.
Imam, popularly known as ‘Afa’, added that eating the early breakfast called sahour gives some of them the strength to engage in active training.
“Fasting starts by 5.00 am, but we are permitted to eat enough food before we start, so the food energizes and sustains us within the training period,” he said.
“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 programs slashed to three,” he added.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
While Imam said it was proper for Muslim athletes to keep training while fasting, others said that fasting affected their performance.
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 Sahour.
Accordingly, Alawode had to adjust his training schedules, a requirement fulfilled by his Muslim coach.
“Anytime the fasting is on, we usually wake up early to eat the Sahour, after which we will return to bed. This makes most athletes and coaches go late for training” he said.
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.
“With reduction in training rate, some athletes who exhibited weakness are totally exempted for the period,” he said.
“We usually start training by 7.30 am, but since the fasting started, training now starts at 9.30 am, because we have Muslims among the athletes.
“Besides there is no major competition this period,” he said.