Ramadan test for athletes in Bahrain

Published June 27th, 2016 - 02:48 GMT
Bahrain Olympic Committee logo
Bahrain Olympic Committee logo

Athletes in Bahrain and the region face a different kind of challenge when training in Ramadan, according to experts.  Gruelling 15-hour fasts dramatically cut into the time usually spent training or focusing on healthy nutrition.

As a result, many athletes have to pay close attention and carefully plan out their time after Iftar in order to successfully complete their training.

The GDN spoke to Supreme Council for Youth and Sport chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who will be taking a Bahrain triathlon delegation to take part in the full Australia Ironman in September.

“Amongst the sports that Bahrain has excelled in is the triathlon, where Bahrainis have made strong presence and conquered different arenas and constantly topped the podiums,” said Shaikh Nasser.

“This clearly asserts that Bahrain has one of the best individual teams in the triathlon sport and its representatives have come to be considered as favourites whenever they take part in any competition in this sport.”

During Ramadan, the team is taking part in an expert training plan which sees their sessions taking place in the evening. “We are continuously training to increase our fitness and technical levels in order to prepare well for the coming competitions, where we strive to bolster our achievements in this sport,” explained Shaikh Nasser.

“We have sketched an advanced training plan, for instance our training sessions are taking place in the evening, where our team is engaged in extensive training in swimming, followed by cycling before they go into running. 

“This contributes to increasing the team’s fitness level. “We have additionally designed another plan which will be adopted at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Swimming training sessions will be held in the morning before the team practices on the cycles and make some running workouts.”

Meanwhile, Bahrain Triathlon Association president Shaikh Saqer Al Khalifa told the GDN that it was important for fitness enthusiasts and athletes to maintain their physique during Ramadan. 

“We need to acknowledge that people fast and that it’s a long day, while still doing sport within 14 hours of not eating,” he said.

“During Ramadan, the focus should not be on developing, it should be maintaining – you need to not lose muscle and not gain weight.

“It’s strategy, being healthy is being productive.” He said he wanted to work to increase health awareness among the population in order to push up the country’s morality rate. 

“We don’t train while fasting and it’s difficult to do endurance during Ramadan,” he explained.

“Endurance is more than three hours cycling usually for 90km, now it’s about two hours for 12km. “With running we usually do an hour for 12km, now we do 45 minutes for eight to 10km.

“The hardest thing to do during Ramadan is the swim because the pool (at Khalifa Sports City) only has eight lanes and it gets very crowded.

“We go at around 7.30pm because at 10pm it’s like a zoo. “Fourteen people are going to the championship in Australia, six of whom are women.

“A lot of training after Ramadan will be indoors during the day and outdoors at night.”  Shaikh Saqer also emphasised nutrition, adding that it was important to ensure people ate the right quantities at the right time. 

“At Iftar, it’s mostly easy to digest food such as mathrooba (traditional Bahraini rice dish), harees (traditional Bahraini dish made of wheat and meat), soup or thareed (Bahraini dish made of shredded khubiz and meat stew),” he said.

“Don’t have things such as spring rolls, samosas, anything fried or hard rice. “At suhoor, I have slow digesting food so that the body has a steady supply of nutrients.”


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