Iraqi athletes train for Olympics, dodging violence along the way

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images Training for the Olympics is tough, but dodging sniper bullets usually isn’t part of a day’s workout for most athletes. Unless you’re Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq. She and three other Iraqis so far have qualified for this summer’s Olympics, and they are doggedly determined to keep training despite the lack of resources ...

595615_080407_irqoly2.jpg
595615_080407_irqoly2.jpg

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Training for the Olympics is tough, but dodging sniper bullets usually isn't part of a day's workout for most athletes. Unless you're Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq. She and three other Iraqis so far have qualified for this summer's Olympics, and they are doggedly determined to keep training despite the lack of resources and security. Abdul-Razzaq doesn't have proper running shoes, and she trains on a pockmarked track that she isn't officially allowed to use. She and her coach regularly get caught up in sniper fire on the way to and from training.

Meanwhile, archer Ali Adnan, who was attacked by militants linked to al Qaeda in 2006, practices mainly in his backyard; it's too difficult to travel in and out of his neighborhood. These Iraqi athletes, as well the Afghan athletes featured in FP's recent photo essay, "The Olympians of Afghanistan," have definitely got the Olympic spirit.

MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Training for the Olympics is tough, but dodging sniper bullets usually isn’t part of a day’s workout for most athletes. Unless you’re Iraqi sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq. She and three other Iraqis so far have qualified for this summer’s Olympics, and they are doggedly determined to keep training despite the lack of resources and security. Abdul-Razzaq doesn’t have proper running shoes, and she trains on a pockmarked track that she isn’t officially allowed to use. She and her coach regularly get caught up in sniper fire on the way to and from training.

Meanwhile, archer Ali Adnan, who was attacked by militants linked to al Qaeda in 2006, practices mainly in his backyard; it’s too difficult to travel in and out of his neighborhood. These Iraqi athletes, as well the Afghan athletes featured in FP‘s recent photo essay, “The Olympians of Afghanistan,” have definitely got the Olympic spirit.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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